Kindergarten choices in North Routt | SteamboatToday.com

Kindergarten choices in North Routt

Charter school offers optional, all-day enrichment program

Mike McCollum

— Full-day kindergarten in Steamboat Springs may be on the horizon, but the district’s North Routt Community Charter School has offered the program since the school’s inception six years ago.

“This program comes out of the needs of the community,” Head of School Colleen Poole said. “Some parents work in (Steamboat) and they find it difficult to drive all the way back here to pick up

their child.”

Hillary Gander is a third generation Clark resident who works in Steamboat. Her two daughters, Sawyer and Bailey, both attended the school’s all-day kindergarten, which Gander said enabled her and her husband to continue working full time.

“When you are a working parent, half-day kindergarten is very inconvenient,” she said. “My husband and I are both working parents. This is the only way we had to make it work.”

It is not mandatory to attend or provide kindergarten in Colorado, and the charter school’s all-day kindergarten program is optional. Poole said that up to four of the school’s seven kindergartners are enrolled in the program each week, which is funded through a $25 daily fee.

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“I haven’t had children in daycare in a while, but from what I understand, half-day childcare is up to or more than $25,” she said. “We think it’s a very cost-effective option.”

The Steamboat Springs School District offers half-day kindergarten classes that begin in the morning and in the afternoon, while the Hayden and South Routt school districts offer full-day kindergarten. The Hayden program costs parents $7 a day, and the South Routt program is free.

The charter school’s all-day program follows the school’s expeditionary learning curriculum where students are immersed into projects, such as nature hikes for science lessons.

“The program may have started out of necessity, but the academic opportunities have grown from there,” said Poole, who noted the optional, second half of the day is called an “enrichment program.”

“We call it enrichment because it’s over and above what they would normally get,” she said. “They get a little bit more of a head start with writing, they go on day hikes, cross-country skiing – things that enrich their school experience.”

Gander said hiking in the fall, skiing in the winter and biking in the spring have been motivating factors for her daughters.

“I think it gets them a little bit more excited about school,” she said. “And there is some absolute peer pressure to get rid of those training wheels.”

For an additional $9, the school also offers an after-school program from 3:30 to 6 p.m.

“After a day of school, it can be a downtime for kids, but we still offer some special projects, such as knitting lessons,” Poole said. “It gives parents the chance to work a full work day without having to take time out of their day to pick up their children.”

– To reach Mike McCollum, call 871-4208

or e-mail mmccollum@steamboatpilot.com