Mundelein School District 75’s preschool program has earned the prestigious Gold Circle of Quality designation from the Illinois State Board of Education.
The 3-5-year-old Jump Start program, closing in on 30 years of operation, for the nearly 100 students who attend Lincoln Early Learning Center, was just recently notified of this honor. It is the first time the program has received a gold rating.
The goal of Jump Start is to help families prepare their children for kindergarten, academically, socially, and emotionally, said Preschool Teacher Stephanie Flade. Teachers Arianna Garcia, Lisa Malicki, and Mrs. Flade work daily with students to teach them their letters, name, number recognition, days of the week, weather, and a host of other preparatory skills. They also work on helping students manage their emotions.
“We teach them compassion, how to be a good friend. We read books about it, role play, model good behavior, and redirect inappropriate behavior,” said Miss Malicki, explaining how teachers work with students on their emotions.
Lincoln Principal Carol Bennett attributes part of the program’s increased rating to Lincoln. District 75’s program moved into the building a year ago from the district’s middle school. At Lincoln she said facilities like toilets, sinks, playground, and furniture is tailored specifically for children who are 3-5-years-old.
Every aspect of play has learning and social and emotional components, Miss Bennett said.
“Everything we do is intentional and with purpose,” Mrs. Flade said. “Not only do teachers help children manage emotions such as anger and frustration, they also provide education to parents on how to work with their children at home. We work with parents to help them set routines in their home, to teach their children appropriate behavior so the home environment has boundaries and limits similar to school,” she said.
“We’re teaching these young learners that there are rules, boundaries and expectations about sharing, taking turns, and so on. If we teach these appropriate skills in preschool we close the learning gap in kindergarten,” Miss Bennett said.
The program is reviewed under a state auditing system, which supports the program through grants. The audit looks at every aspect of the program including furniture, gross and fine motor skills, books, art and music, playground equipment, and literacy and math,” said Holly Colin, District 75’s Director of Special Services.
“I’m really proud of the hard work the teachers undertook to prepare for the audit and what they do to provide high quality preschool programming for our younger learners,” Mrs. Colin said.
ExceleRate Illinois, the state’s quality recognition and improvement system for early learning and development programs, unifies all of the state’s early learning programs under a common set of standards across multiple settings to provide families with important information about quality early learning programs in their community. ExceleRate Illinois is anchored by a set of standards that focus on early learning and development and places a high priority on instructional excellence, family services, staff qualifications, professional development, and program administration.