Like all new stages in life, kindergarten is both exciting and overwhelming– for both children and their parents.
Luckily, staff at Minnetonka Schools know the drill and provide seven different kindergarten options to choose from, depending on child development and family preference.
"I believe the biggest factor for making your kindergarten decision needs to be what the parent thinks is absolutely the best," said Cindy Andress, principal at Minnewashta Elementary. "Parents know their children better than anyone else and should choose the program that is the 'just right fit.'"
The district's kindergarten options include half day, extended day, English program, Chinese immersion and Spanish immersion, as well as Ready Start K program (especially designed for 5-year-olds with summer birthdays).
Kindergarten Information & Registration Meetings for Parents (Meetings at Minnewashta, Scenic Heights, Deephaven, Clear Springs and Groveland have already occurred).
- January 15, 6:30 p.m. at Excelsior Elementary School
- January 24, 6:30 p.m. at Minnetonka Community Education Center (for all schools)
Extended Day K
Extended Day K is offered at each of the elementary schools. This program is an all-day, every day option that includes the traditional half-day kindergarten curriculum with another half day of enrichment activities. In Extended Day K, children stay in the same classroom for the full school day, with the same kindergarten teacher. Extended Day K is designed for those children who are ready for a longer day in a learning environment but is not intended to accelerate students. The fee for Extended Day K is $4,100 for the year, plus a $100 registration fee. Payment plans are available.
Language Immersion Kindergarten
Immersion programs are offered at each of the district’s six elementary schools. The program begins in kindergarten, and families have a choice between Spanish and Chinese.
The district is entering its sixth year of immersion, and the first group of students are now in middle school.
"All of our programs are thriving– English and immersion, regular education, special education and gifted education—that has not changed," Principal Andress said. "The average student leaves our elementary schools at the 11th grade level academically. The average student. This is incredibly encouraging."
The immersion kindergarten option is available as a half-day option or fee-based extended day option. Students are exposed to the target language for a longer period of time in Extended Day K.
Families who enroll their children in kindergarten are asked to make a six-year commitment to the immersion program, and entrance into the immersion program is available only at the kindergarten level.
Clear Springs Elementary
Scenic Heights Elementary
Ready Start Kindergarten
Ready Start Kindergarten is a program designed for a small number of children with summer birthdays who may not be ready, socially or academically, for a traditional half-day of kindergarten. This half-day, every-day kindergarten option is tailored to younger attention spans, and class size is limited. Choice time and hands-on activities provide students more opportunities to strengthen social and emotional skills.
"As principals, we spend a great deal of time with our kindergarten families prior to entering kindergarten to answer their questions, meet with them, and share our schools so that they are able to make the best choice for their individual child," said Principal Andress.
"One choice or option is not a better choice or option than any of the others. It is a personal choice of what the families values and wants for the early education of each of their children as individuals. Parents are typically concerned about learning and safety; they want to know that we will care for their child(ren) in their absence and that we will do what it takes to provide appropriate learning opportunities for their child in a partnership with them."
Register for Kindergarten
The district is no longer accepting open enrollment applications for kindergarten at Deephaven or Groveland elementary schools. Openings remain at the other four schools for kindergarten and at all schools for older students.
How did decide which kindergarten option was best for your child? Should Extended Day K be free? Tell us in the comments area.