CCSD's Expanded Pre-K Program

Canastota Has Expanded its Pre-K Program
Posted on 11/08/2021

Canastota has expanded its pre-kindergarten program this year, creating four full-day classrooms to better prepare its youngest learners for success throughout their school careers.

Utilizing New York State’s expanded funding specifically earmarked for full-day pre-k programs, Canastota was able to add two new teachers to its pre-k program, doubling the space, staff and number of students who will benefit from beginning school a year early.

“It’s such a win-win to have these additional classes so that more of our 4-year-olds and their families can get acclimated to our school and establish relationships before kindergarten,” Peterboro Street Elementary School Principal Jen Carnahan said. “Our pre-k friends are adjusting well to school and we love having them in the building!”

Having a full day in school allows the 65 pre-k students to participate in more of the activities that their PSES classmates do, including dedicated time in the gym, visits to the library, and eating both breakfast and lunch at school. The students are also eligible to take the bus to school.

Parents were excited about both the longer day and the transportation option, said Madison-Oneida BOCES Early Childhood Director Colleen Wuest. MOBOCES coordinates pre-k in Canastota and Wuest headed enrollment efforts in the spring when full-day plans were finalized.

Longtime pre-k teachers Robin Pierce and Teresa Williams said the longer days allow them to repeatedly reinforce concepts like routines, communication and gross and fine motor skills. It also provides an opportunity to focus more on developing social emotional skills.

“When we have morning meeting, everyone has a turn to talk and share and we can do daily reflections,” Pierce said. “Social emotional is always a big part of learning at this age but now we can take the time to really work on those skills.”

What hasn’t changed is the program’s emphasis on play-based learning – through singing, dancing, art projects, building, and a lot of pretend play – to teach content and social skills to ensure students are ready for kindergarten.

“Our school is all about play, especially in Pre-K!” Carnahan said. “Whether it’s a pretend doctor’s office or cooking with Play-Doh or an obstacle course, children do so much learning through play and being social. It’s so important to let them learn and explore that way.”