Lawrence Arts Center to begin kindergarten program

photo by: Nick Krug

Camper Lenora Roberts makes a ground-level escape from a block fortress on Thursday, June 16, 2016 at the Lawrence Arts Center. In the fall, the arts center will begin offering afternoon kindergarten classes.

After 30 years of offering preschool, the Lawrence Arts Center is enrolling its inaugural class of kindergarten students for the upcoming school year. Though the kindergarten curriculum will be based on the academic standards used by Kansas public schools, the program’s director said it will use a creative approach to teach the material.

“The children will learn — we know they can, we know they will — and they can do it in many ways,” said Linda Reimond, director of the center’s preschool and kindergarten programs. “It’s going to be a lot of hands-on, a lot of discovery, a lot of creativity.”

photo by: Nick Krug

Lorelei Dunn concentrates as she adds background to a painting on Thursday, June 16, 2016, at the Lawrence Arts Center. In the fall, the arts center will begin offering afternoon kindergarten classes.

The center’s Kelly Galloway Kindergarten program will be half-day and begin with one class of students for the 2016-2017 school year. Certified teachers will instruct the class using arts-based activities designed to teach the state academic standards for reading, math, science and social studies, Reimond said.

The curriculum includes art, music, dance and drama, as well as outside playtime, Reimond said. In addition to daily arts instruction, there will also be hands-on activities. For example, Reimond said, the kindergarten class will be in charge of the center’s vegetable gardens and will help cook a snack once per week.

“With that there’s science, there’s math, there’s reading recipes, there’s nutrition,” Reimond said. “There’s all kinds of things involved in it.”

The program was made possible by a gift from the Thomas D. Galloway Family. Reimond said the donation helped get the program started, including the funds for purchasing new equipment and paying teachers to develop the curriculum.

Reimond was the original director and lead teacher of the center’s arts-based preschool when it began in 1985. The preschool program began small, and over the years has grown to its current enrollment of about 120 students ages 2 through 5. Reimond said she imagines the kindergarten program could be a good fit for preschoolers who may not be ready for the all-day kindergarten offered by public school districts, such as 5-year-olds with summer birthdays.

“Kindergarten is kind of a bridge year, and some children are not quite ready for the full day,” Reimond said, adding that she thinks a half-day kindergarten program fills a gap. “Families are looking for something different for children who maybe are still a little young.”

Two certified teachers will be in charge of the class, which Reimond said will be capped at 20 students. The kindergarten program will take place from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. The monthly cost for the program is $375, and those who meet certain income guidelines may apply for financial aid. An optional extended day program is also available until 5:30 p.m.

Even though the center’s preschool and kindergarten programs only serve students until they are 6 years old, Reimond said, she thinks the approach helps teach fundamental skills — such as creative thinking, problem solving and communication — that are necessary for any career they may pursue as adults.

“I think those are life skills,” Reimond said.

Students must be 5 years old before Aug. 31 to be eligible to enroll in the program. More information is available on the Arts Center’s website.