Lynanne Haley, a teacher at John  F. Kennedy Memorial School, leads a discussion with Pre-K students in a morning class in Biddeford on Wednesday. Biddeford Schools launched its first-ever Pre-K program on Monday to help students become better prepared to enter Kindergarten. ED PIERCE/Journal Tribune

Lynanne Haley, a teacher at John F. Kennedy Memorial School, leads a discussion with Pre-K students in a morning class in Biddeford on Wednesday. Biddeford Schools launched its first-ever Pre-K program on Monday to help students become better prepared to enter Kindergarten. ED PIERCE/Journal Tribune

BIDDEFORD —A world of infinite possibilities opened Monday for some of the youngest learners to ever attend school in Biddeford. That’s the day almost 100 students made history when the school district officially launched its new Pre-K classes at John F. Kennedy Memorial School.

Back in May, members of the Biddeford School Committee voted unanimously to create a free Pre-K program at JFK Memorial School for Biddeford children ages 3 or 4 or turning 4 years old on or before Oct. 15.

With three classes of 2 1/2 hours each day in either the morning or the afternoon, the program’s goal is to foster social, language, cognitive and motor development among Biddeford students and to help prepare them to attend Kindergarten.

According to Lindsey Nadeau, Early Childhood coordinator for JFK Memorial School, the new Pre-K classes are designed to promote student self-help skills and ease children into an organized school setting.

JFK Pre-K students ride the bus to school and have lunch and snacks during school, just like Kindergarten students.   

“Our Pre-K program uses the OWL curriculum (Opening the World of Learning), which places a focus on developing language and literacy skills,” Nadeau said.

OWL curriculum includes ongoing assessments of research-based success predictors and playful, purposeful, and personalized instruction. It is based on the belief that immersion in a learning-rich environment for students is critical, but not solely sufficient enough for early learners.

Under the program, all the time that a student spends in the classroom is an opportunity for learning and teachers focus on conversation to provide an unprecedented amount of implicit and explicit oral language, fostering critical thinking, and helping students to develop their vocabulary.

It provides daily English language development lessons designed to support English language learners and is tied to key concepts and vocabulary of each day’s instruction.

Each JFK Memorial School Pre-K class has a certified teacher and educational technician and runs from 9:45 a.m. to noon, or in an afternoon session from 1:15 to 3:30 p.m. 

JFK Memorial School also houses a Head Start Pre-K Program, Nadeau said. 

The need for the Pre-K program is evident, as only 52 percent of JFK Kindergarten students in the 2016-2017 school year tested at the basic entry level, Nadeau said. That figure rose to 70 percent by the end of the school year in June as students worked their way through Kindergarten.

“We’re very excited to be able to offer Pre-K here,” Nadeau said. “This program is a tremendous benefit to help students and it’s been fun to watch them learn and engage.”

She said a limited number of Pre-K slots remain available and parents interested in enrolling their children in the program can find more information at www.biddefordschooldepartment.org or by calling the school at 282-4134.

— Executive Editor Ed Pierce can be reached at 282-1535 ext. 326 or by email at [email protected]


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