The beginning of the school year will look different for kindergarten students in Ottumwa. Students will be randomly divided into two groups. Depending on which group the student is assigned to, they will attend school from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. on either Wednesday, August 20 or Thursday, August 21. Their first full day of school will be on Friday, August 22.
According to Sarah McGlothlen, Douma Elementary principal, this is not unique in the state of Iowa but is the first time it has been implemented in Ottumwa. The mini schedule allows students to transition into kindergarten. “There are various introductory activities throughout the day,” said McGlothlen. “It really gives the teachers an opportunity to see how students will react with other students.”
It also gives students an opportunity to practice new procedures in smaller groups. Activities such as eating lunch and going to the restroom can be intimidating to a new student, according to McGlothlen.
There are several reasons why the district is piloting this new transition into kindergarten. By having only half of the students attend, there is a lower teacher:student ratio, more individual help as students begin to learn the building and procedures; it allows for more personalization the first day of school; and the opportunity for students to socialize in a smaller group.
Students will meet all kindergarten teachers during their shortened day. If a student assignment is changed, parents will be notified by the principal before the student attends on Friday. “Student placement is based on providing students with the best opportunity for success in the classroom,” said McGlothlen.
Due to this transition schedule, parents may need to make child care arrangements on both Wednesday and Thursday, August 20 and 21.