The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


November 26, 2008

Little ones learning early in Lewisburg

District introduces children to classroom at a young age

LEWISBURG -- Jennifer Cracchiolo was amazed how her 3-year-old son, Lorenzo, learned to write his name in just five weeks.

Lorenzo has also impressed his mom with daily lessons on the alphabet, colors and shapes.

"I'm always surprised by something he is telling when he comes home," said Cracchiolo, of Lewisburg. "He has really enjoyed learning and has been learning a lot. I have no worries about him going into kindergarten."

Lorenzo's success is exactly what the Lewisburg Area School District was after when it opened its first-ever pre-kindergarten class last month at the Lewisburg Child Development Center with the help a Pre-K Counts grant.

The $78,000 state grant was awarded to Lewisburg this summer to hire certified pre-k teacher Amanda Benshoff, who now leads a class of nine pupils ages 3 to 4. The grant actually provides for up to 20 pupils, according to Cathy Moser, Lewisburg's director of curriculum and instruction.

"We certainly have room for some more children," Moser said. "The goal of this is to give children a classroom experience as they transition into kindergarten. Research has been solid on the idea of a pre-k experience being a great building block."

Moser said one of the main influences for launching the pre-k program was the district's recent decision to go to full-day kindergarten. This year is the first year for all-day kindergarten in Lewisburg, which has subsequently received roughly 140 pupils.

"We felt it would be appropriate to help more children take that next step in getting ready for school," Moser said. "However, there are several private (pre-k) providers who do a wonderful job, but there are still a number of families who aren't able to take advantage of those programs."

Among the advantages of the pre-k program, according to Moser, include improved social skills, learning how to follow directions and sharpening basic fundamentals like knowing colors, shapes and letters.

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