Ascension pilot program gives toddlers a taste of kindergarten

Early Learning Coach, Brandy Morin works with kids at Genesis Daycare
Early Learning Coach, Brandy Morin works with kids at Genesis Daycare
Teacher, Dion Brown with kids at Genesis
Teacher, Dion Brown with kids at Genesis

GONZALES, LA (WAFB) - Some children as young as two years old are getting a taste of kindergarten.

They are part of a pilot study in Ascension Parish that aims at making sure every student who enters the school system starts on the same level.

Dion Brown was getting her students ready for class on Monday morning, only she wasn't teaching in a traditional classroom. The four year olds are actually enrolled at Genesis Daycare Center in Gonzales, La. Their playground is undergoing a big change. It's not just about toy airplanes and cars anymore.

Early Language Coach, Brandy Morin, has been tasked with visiting childcare centers to help teachers expand their lessons into play-based learning.

Genesis Assistant Director, Sharnette Harvey, said the center is doing it with the same tools they have been using all along.

"They have hands-on activities, which teaches them to recognize their alphabet and get to know them that way as opposed to a basic alphabet on a sheet of paper or something like that," Harvey said.

Ascension Parish Schools got a $150,000 grant from the state to become part of the study. So far, nine childcare centers are participating.

Coordinating Partner, Bridget Boudreaux, said the school system tracks the center's progress and also gives teachers feedback.

"We want to make sure that every child had an equal chance to have a quality early childhood experience so that they have an even playing field when the school year begins," Boudreaux said.

Educators say it is an easy formula.

"It changes it from babysitting to teaching. That's as simple as it is," Harvey said.

The kids are building the basics as they go, and they are having fun too.

The Ascension Parish School System is holding an open house where parents learn more about the program. It will be held at the Gonzales Civic Center on April 2, 2014 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Copyright 2014 WAFB. All rights reserved.