Muscatine Schools offer new options for youngest students

During the 2021-2022 school year, the Muskie Early Learning Center will house one of the district's newest programs, bilingual four-year-old preschool.

MUSCATINE, Iowa–As parents in Muscatine get ready to enroll their children in preschool and kindergarten for the 2021-2022 school year, Muscatine Community School District has announced several new early childhood programs. The bilingual preschool and Kinder Academy will provide additional opportunities for area students, helping to get their education off to a strong start.

For the first time this year, the district will offer a bilingual four-year-old preschool option. Open to both English and Spanish speaking students, the class, taught by current three-year-old preschool teacher Noelia Espinal, will use the same curriculum as all of the district’s other four-year-old preschool classes. However, Espinal will spend half of each day teaching in English and half in Spanish. This new offering will allow students to develop their vocabulary and fluency in two languages at an age where they can do so more easily. Parents wanting to continue their child on this track will have the opportunity to do so with a language immersion kindergarten class offered during the 2022-2023 school year.

Muskie Early Learning Center Principal Jessi Freers looks forward to providing this additional kind of preschool class. “I believe this is a program that will greatly benefit our community,” she said. “The teacher that will be teaching the section was in a bilingual program herself as a kindergarten student and is greatly respected by our families and staff here at the Muskie Early Learning Center.”

Five-year-olds preparing to enter kindergarten in the fall will have a new learning option as well. For younger students, such as those with summer birthdays, who may need more time to adapt to life at school, Kinder Academy will provide that option. Taught at one of the district’s six elementary schools, Kinder Academy will follow the same curriculum at the same pace as all other kindergarten classes do. If a student meets or exceeds the expectations for a kindergarten student in their first year of Kinder Academy, they will graduate up to first grade at their home elementary school the following year.

For students who still need to develop certain skills, they will complete another year of Kinder Academy. In their second year, students will have curriculum modifications and enrichment added to challenge them past what they could do the year before. They will also serve as peer role models for younger students in their first year of Kinder Academy. Modeled after a program used in a district Superintendent Clint Christopher previously worked in, Freers predicts Kinder Academy will help boost young five-year-olds’ confidence and better prepare them for success in elementary school.

Along with their new classes, Muscatine schools will continue to offer their traditional three-year-old, four-year-old, and kindergarten classes. To enroll a student, visit the district website.