Lawrence Township Schools Is Giving Kids a Critical Start in Early Learning Centers
Writer / Suzanne Huntzinger
Photography provided by Brian Brosmer & Lawrence Township
Lawrence Township Schools can give your child a quality kindergarten education, and it’s free. But, hundreds of Hoosier kindergarten-aged children are missing out on that critical foundation in their education because they don’t have access to good quality early learning in public school, or they don’t have the funds for private schools.
In addition, Indiana is one of 16 states which don’t require children to attend school before age seven, so many parents are opting out of preschool and kindergarten registration. By the time these children reach first grade, they’ve missed out on important fundamentals, and it’s not easy to get them caught up.
But, contrary to what many parents believe, your kindergarteners can get a jump start on their education at no cost to you. Lawrence Township Schools is promoting enrollment in their programs in their four Early Learning Centers to make sure kids have that important educational foundation.
Besides promoting early childhood education through word of mouth, Lawrence Township’s push for enrollment began in December with priority enrollment for students already enrolled in preschool. Enrollment for all other families followed in January 2018. Then the blitz continued with a social media marketing campaign targeting specific demographics within certain zip codes. Lawrence Township is also blanketing neighborhoods with yard signs to promote the enrollment efforts and encourage families to register. Each Early Learning Center, Amy Beverland, Mary Castle, Brook Park and Winding Ridge, will be holding their respective open houses and tours.
“We want parents to know that if they don’t start their child in preschool or kindergarten, they’re putting their child at a disadvantage,” says Dr. Dana Altemeyer, Coordinator of Communications, Public Relations and Marketing. “The education and socialization that prepares your child for ultimately entering the workforce starts in early childhood.”
Early Learning Indiana, a not-for-profit advocacy group dedicated to providing greater access to early educational opportunities, has done tons of research on the impact of early childhood education. All the research shows that introduction of developmentally appropriate academic skills and social-emotional development at the pre-k level and continued work beyond pre-k can improve child outcomes.
“Teachers can succeed in catching up kids who don’t have those foundations,” says Stephanie LaPlante, Director of Early Childhood Education and PK-3 Curriculum, “But it takes a lot of time and effort.”
In fact, in the 2015-2016 school year, Indiana spent $24M in kindergarten retention costs. More research shows that for every dollar Indiana invests in its pre-k and early learning programs, it sees $3.83 to $4 in return. The savings are realized in fewer dollars spent in special education services, in-grade retention and even reduced crime later.
With that important statistic in mind, Dr. Jennifer McCormick, Indiana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, has recommended legislation to lower the mandatory age for children to start school. In the meantime, Lawrence Township Schools is moving forward to raise awareness about early intervention opportunities.
“It’s important to develop your child’s love of learning early on,” LaPlante says. “We will always be evaluating our curriculum to ensure it’s developmentally appropriate and that it meets the standards. We want students to keep that love of learning so that they’ll keep doing it.”
Lawrence Township Schools’ standard of excellence in early learning reflects in all four of their Early Learning Centers. The school district has achieved accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children, and they are ranked a level 4 school by the state’s Paths to Quality program. That’s an important achievement because there are some Indiana counties which have no level three or four schools.
While quality education is important, making the programs accessible is also important to Lawrence Township Schools. The district has access to accommodate about 500 preschool students between the four Early Learning Centers. Enrollment in their Early Learning Centers can reach up to 1,100 students ages three to six.
Lawrence Township Schools applies the same standard of excellence beyond their Early Learning Centers. Forest Glen Elementary has an award-winning Spanish immersion program for which they’ve been recognized by the International Spanish Academy as a magnet school for its Spanish curriculum. But Skiles Test Elementary, already a magnet school for its STEM program, will introduce the township’s second Spanish immersion program.
Enrollment is open now and you can take that first step to your child’s future.
“We want to be that on ramp that brings you into Lawrence Township Schools so that you stay with us until graduation,” LaPlante says.
Visit ltschools.org, navigate to the Early Learning Centers HOME tab, and the registration form is under the “ABOUT” section. Most students are placed in the school in their district, but you can request a school of your preference. Call one of the Early Learning Centers today to request a tour.