Great Start Readiness Program Offers Opportunities for Four Year Olds

It is a great time to be a four year old in Ionia County as there is a Great Start Readiness Program available in every district within the Ionia ISD.  The Ionia ISD is recruiting children who will be 4 by October 1 to participate in the 2014-2015 Great Start Readiness Program.

The program is income based however; there is an allowance for a certain percentage of over-income slots so if you want to be considered for the program we strongly encourage you to apply.  Each district will offer an open house where you can stop in and complete an application and learn more about the program.  The environment really reflects the child and you will be able to see how learning has been supported throughout the year in each of the classrooms.   All families that attend will be given a tool to screen their child’s development and will be able to talk to teachers and other staff if they have any concerns.  If you are unable to come to the open house the application can be completed online at  or picked up at your local elementary school.

The Great Start Readiness Program utilizes a play-based atmosphere designed to foster curiosity and creativity in children, while supporting learning through their interests. A classroom is divided into 11 areas for learning utilizing blocks, house, art center, writing center, sand, water, discovery center, toys and a library. There is a specific routine that occurs each day which includes:  large group –where movement, stories, songs, finger plays , letters, numbers and classroom rules and behaviors are taught; small group- where a group of eight students work together with one of the teaching staff to explore materials and practice new skills; and work time – where children choose where to work in the different centers in the classroom  and the staff members move around the room and become partners in play with the children to support their learning.

Children are provided a snack or a meal and eat family style in their classroom, passing food and engaging in conversation.  All children in the classroom have a job, which helps develop a sense of community within the group. In addition, children go outside daily for 30 minutes.  Transportation to the preschool program is provided by each of the local school districts.

There are many research studies demonstrating that a child-centered, play-based preschool program yields better results for children, not only as they enter kindergarten but also in later years.  Children develop stronger language and math skills due to the ability to manipulate real objects in their environment.  The program supports all areas of the child’s development including approaches to learning (persistence, curiosity, problem solving), language, literacy, math, fine motor, large motor, self-care skills and social-emotional development.  During conferences parents are provided with a progress report that shows all the learning outcomes for their child.

Two home visits during the year provide opportunities to build the home- school connection and allow the home culture to be brought into the classroom as well to help parents support their child’s learning at home.

The following is the open house schedule for each community:

Monday  May 12th  4:30 to 6:30   Emerson School –Ionia Public Schools

Monday  May 12th  4:30 to 6:30   Oakwood School –Portland Public Schools

Monday  May 19th 4:30 to 6:30    West Elementary –Lakewood School District

Monday  May 19th 4:30 to 6:30  Woodland Elementary-Lakewood School District

Monday  May 19th 4:30 to 6:30  Saranac Elementary-Saranac Community Schools

The Great Start Readiness Program teaching staff is excited about next year and providing young children the opportunity for a high quality preschool experience.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Cheryl Granzo at or 1-616-522-1410.




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