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Davenport School District’s free preschool program is expanding

DAVENPORT--The children's village within the Davenport School District is adding three new locations for the preschool program.

Classes will now be available at Eisenhower, Washington and Jefferson Elementary.
The district hopes this expansion will make it easier for kids to get a head start on kindergarten.

"When I started teaching, I taught kindergarten many years ago and it`s a totally different ballgame now," said Tammy Conrad. Conrad started as a kindergarten teacher twenty years ago. Now she is the principal for the preschool programs in Davenport.

"Years ago preschool when we talked about preschool it was play just all play a daycare", said Conrad. She believes preschool has turned into something more, "Preschool is the kindergarten I taught twenty something years ago".

Education is evolving. Preschoolers now are learning the alphabet and numbers. Being in a classroom a year earlier also boosts their social skills.  "We just feel that this will help with that achievement gap that we experience in the upper grades", said Conrad.

Only half of the kids in kindergarten now attended pre-school. Kindergarten teacher, Liz Paez, sees the difference first hand. "When they come in with no foundational skills, for us it`s having them catch up the whole year of preschool", said Paez. Having to catch other students up slows down the entire classroom.

The kids who do attend preschool come to kindergarten prepared and confident. They are able to focus and get more out of the classroom.

"They come ready to say goodbye to moms and dads without having that separation anxiety they're ready to focus and they`re ready to take on that challenge that kindergarten is giving them now", said Paez.

The expansion of the program will benefit both the teachers and kids. "Just making sure that they are ready it`s that readiness piece", said Conrad.

The half day program for four-year-old kids is completely free. Registration has open since March and the program at Jefferson Elementary School is almost full.