TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Even though it's Summertime, the work for teachers in Leon County is far from over. They now face a big challenge this Fall, filling the learning gap caused by the pandemic.
It might be summer but there are still children learning at Sabal Palm.
The summer programs this summer are expanding to make sure students are prepared for the next level come August.
Sabal Palm Elementary School Principal Anicia Robinson says they're busy making sure children are ready for August following a tough year.
"The beginning of the school year, most of our students were learning at home. By October, the parents were starting to send them back," she said.
Hundreds of parents in Leon County decided to "Redshirt" their kindergartners, meaning those 5-year-olds sat out their first year of school.
Now LCS is preparing for 3,000 kindergartners, 600 more than the district normally see a year. This summer is a chance to get the ball rolling on their academic and social development said Leon County Schools Director of Early Childhood Programs Brooke Brunner.
"We have a long way to go in our community to change the perception of what early learning is. It's so much more than the perception of just babysitting," said Brunner.
LCS is expanding its Voluntary Pre-K program, offering 72 seats this year for both of its campuses. That program gives children not yet old enough the chance to prepare for kindergarten so they're ready when the time comes.
Elementary schools are welcoming rising kindergartners into the building months before the official start of school. They are also working with community leaders to host pop-up pre-schools.
"So many of our 4- and 5-year-olds do not have the opportunity to engage in any quality early childcare," said Brunner.
Schools like Sabal Palm say that's why they're pushing parents to register early.
"The earlier they register the new kindergartners for schools, the less stressful it's going to be on the students," said Principal Robinson.
Leon County will have 170 kindergarten classes this year.
If you have a child that needs to be registered, you can find a link here.