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Too many kids aren’t ready to learn when they start school. Can a preschool-lite program help?


May 7, 2019
Matt Hoffman
Billings Gazette

Too many of Ahnna Barnett’s kindergarten students were arriving at Orchard Elementary not yet equipped to make it through a school day, much less to learn. Many struggled to follow basic instructions. Social tasks like sharing resulted in too many screechy fights. Some kids weren’t fully potty-trained.

Barnett [no relation to NIEER Senior Co-Director W. Steven Barnett] felt like she spent the first six weeks of the school year simply preparing many kids to learn before they could get to ABCs and 123s.

“They’re coming in not able to socialize as well as the other kids,” she said. “Sharing is difficult for them, they’re very impulsive. If there’s a disagreement, the first thing they want to do is whack the other kid, or argue or scream or fight.”