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Jessie Duncan approved for pre-kindergarten

Parents in Penhold who are seeking out early education for their preschoolers won't have to look far after the launch of a new pre-kindergarten program at Jessie Duncan Elementary School next September.

Parents in Penhold who are seeking out early education for their preschoolers won't have to look far after the launch of a new pre-kindergarten program at Jessie Duncan Elementary School next September.

The program was developed for 3 and 4-year-olds that are facing extra challenges such as speech problems or delayed development and is aimed at giving them a head start so they will be ready for kindergarten.

"The intention of the program is to equip children with the skills they need to be successful in their next few years of school and in life," said Dawn Weststrate, early intervention coordinator for Chinook's Edge School Division (CESD).

The program was piloted in …cole Olds Elementary and …cole Steffie Woima in Sylvan Lake for the last three years and was successful is those locations. Now, CESD is expanding the program to other schools in the division that have a need for it.

"We are so fortunate to have this program, it will help us for many years," said Karen Norton, the principal at Jessie Duncan Elementary.

"The whole program is developed around play and the children will learn by interacting with each other."

Activities such as puppet plays will help with speech development and others such as playing with balls helps with hand-eye coordination and balance.

"Everything they do will be teaching something but the kids won't know, they will just be having fun," said Norton.

Norton said another benefit to the program it that it will also help the children learn school smarts, as she calls them.

"Learning the little things such as drinking from the fountains and putting your coats on the hooks, are all things that will make a difference when they go into kindergarten."

Special Education teacher Elisa Jackson will be teaching the program next year. The children will also have access to a number of specialists including a physical therapist, a speech and language pathologist, a psychologist, and a behavioral specialist.

Norton said they will later track the success of the children in the program throughout their years at Jessie Duncan to see how the program is working.

Next year 10 children will be accepted into the pre-kindergarten program.