Peek into any of the quality early childhood classrooms at M.L. King Academy in Mount Clemens and you’ll see children doing what they do best: playing. “Play is how young children learn, and even though it looks like they are just having fun, preschoolers are actually learning important lessons and building skills that will help them throughout their academic lives,” says Melissa Laseck, Principal at M.L. King Academy. Through these well-designed programs, preschoolers are getting their very best start.
Research shows that kids who experience quality early childhood education are more likely to share with others, control their emotions, follow directions and have a clear understanding of classroom expectations — all great skills and the best start for success in kindergarten. In the longer term, they are even more likely to be prepared for later academic success, graduate from high school and become higher earners in the workforce.
M.L. King Academy is an entire building designed to provide quality programming for preschoolers in the Mount Clemens Community Schools district. Here, we share some details about what’s available for families at this school just for preschoolers.
Great Start Readiness Program
Funded by the Michigan Department of Education and administered by the Macomb Intermediate School District, Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) is a high-quality preschool program just for children who turn 4 by Dec. 1 of the year they enroll. GSRP is free to qualifying families.
“GSRP is really the gold-standard for early childhood education programs. It follows a research-based curriculum that emphasizes language, literacy and math and it’s delivered in a developmentally appropriate way,” says Monique Beels, Superintendent at Mount Clemens Community Schools.
At M.L. King Academy, GSRP looks very much like kindergarten, with a full day for most students, and all the fun and learning that is just right for active, engaged 4 year olds.
Children have breakfast with their classmates at 8 a.m., then engage in large group instruction, recess, small group instruction and quiet time. In a play-based environment, children gain fine and gross motor skills, concentration skills, spatial awareness and eye-hand coordination. They also build social-emotional skills and learn how to interact with peers in a group learning environment.
“Through GSRP, our youngest learners build verbal skills and learn to write their names and count, too,” Laseck says. All children receive breakfast, lunch and snack at school, and transportation is provided for in-district students.
Mount Clemens Early Childhood Special Education
Parents who notice their child is missing a developmental milestone — or just sense that their child’s development is delayed — can call M.L. King Academy to receive an evaluation.
“For the very best possible outcome, it’s important to address developmental delays as early as possible,” Laseck says. “While it’s tempting to wait and see, because we all know children develop at different rates, it’s also important to seek advice from professionals in early childhood development.”
During the evaluation, experienced educators observe physical, cognitive and emotional behaviors of students and make recommendations on programs and therapies that can help. For eligible children, these specialized programs are free of charge.
At the Mount Clemens Early Childhood Special Education program, teachers provide individualized instruction for children ages 3-5 on speech, cognitive challenges, social delays and other developmental delays with specific strategies designed to support the child. In some cases, they can also provide resources and support for parents to use at home to further help their child’s learning. Parents often better understand their child’s behavior through these at-home activities, too.
In most cases, children in the Mount Clemens Early Childhood Special Education program thrive, and some even outgrow the program as they build the skills they need in a supportive, nurturing environment, says Stacy Tomlingson, Assistant Superintendent and Director of Special Education, adding that the students are always surrounded by highly skilled teachers who help them achieve their best possible outcomes.
“As a district, everyone at Mount Clemens Community Schools is proud to offer their best to support the children in their classrooms,” Beels says. “And it all starts with quality early childhood education at M.L. King Academy. We’re so happy to have these wonderful programs for our youngest students.”