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Paynesville Press - June 6, 2001

Head Start switches to four days a week

By Michael Jacobson

Head Start The Head Start program in Paynesville ended its school-year-long program last week with an end-of-the-year picnic, which had to be held indoors due to the cold, wet weather.

This year, the state and federal program - which is run through an agency in St. Cloud that handles Stearns, Benton, and Sherburne counties - switched from every-other-day sessions to four-day-a-week sessions.

"With the consistency of four days in a row, it's really much better," said Mary Mackedanz, a local instructor. "It's a much better transition to kindergarten."

"We could cover more things," added Jill Eickhoff, the other instructor, "because we had them twice as much."

"They retain more. They remember it better," she added.

The response from the kids and feedback from parents has the instructors convinced that the program should remain as a four-day-a-week program. "It's so nice to tell the kids at the end of the day, 'I'll see you tomorrow,'" said Mackedanz. "It was such a routine for them to get up and come," she added, "rather than come one day and sleep in the next."

The program - designed to give kids a head start for kindergarten - works on basic literacy like colors, numbers, and letters; fine-motor skills; and on the social relations found at school.

The local Head Start program had 15 kids this year, and is licensed for 17. Classes were held from Tuesday to Friday from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

This year, Mackedanz and Eickhoff were helped by Janell Hoffman, who served the breakfast to the kids everyday, and Sue Arend, who volunteered to help in the classroom.

Like the regular school, Head Start begins in the fall, ends in the spring, and takes off the same holidays and bad weather days.

The program is open to three- to five-year-olds who meet the eligibility requirements. Interested parents can call the St. Cloud agency, Reach Up, Inc., toll free at 1-877-848-4912 for more information or to register for next year.

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