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Ohio County Schools Preps for Pre-K Registration

Photo Provided - Madison Elementary School pre-kindergarten student Brooklyn Mills enjoys quiet time in the classroom.

WHEELING — Ohio County Schools is getting ready to register its next class of pre-kindergarten students, and there is an advantage to being first in class.

Registration for the school system’s Universal Pre-K program begins at 8 a.m. Feb. 7, and those eligible must be 4 years old on or before June 30, 2022. Parents or guardians can register children by calling 304-243-0333 or online at http://boe.ohio.k12.wv.us.

Raquel McLeod, student services director for Ohio County Schools, said those registering first will get more of an opportunity to choose the location that is best for their child.

“Because Pre-K is not mandated by the state, your residential district does not have a bearing on what classroom your child can attend,” she said. “You have a better opportunity to get the classroom you want.”

There are 19 pre-kindergarten sites available within Ohio County Schools. These are located at Bethlehem, Elm Grove, Madison, Middle Creek, Ritchie, Steenrod, Warwood, West Liberty and Woodsdale elementary schools, as well as at Holy Family, King’s Daughters, Noah’s Ark, Ohio Valley Child Learning Center and Orchard Park.

West Virginia Universal Pre-K, is available in all 55 counties. The state requires that a minimum of half of the programs operate in collaborative settings with private pre-kindergarten, child care centers, or Head Start programs in order to facilitate expansion of pre-kindergarten offerings.

McLeod said over 330 students are enrolled in pre-kindergarten classes this year, and she expects that number to be about the same for the 2022-2023 school year.

Classes take place four days a week, Monday through Thursday, for 6 hours and 15 minutes a day.

“Our Pre-K classes have a routine, but they are flexible to meet the needs of students,” McLeod explained.

She said typically each day starts with a “morning circle,” where students are taught such things as the days of the week and calendar skills, weather. After this is “center time.” The students choose at what center in the classroom they wish to play, and with whom they want to play.

“A big part of learning is through play,” McLeod said.

Lunch then takes place in a family style — but socially distanced — setting at tables. The teachers and assistants eat with the students, and teachers lead conversations to improve communication skills,” she said.

After lunch is a time set for physical activity.

“This improves the motor skills of the student,” McLeod said. “And rest time is included within the day. The student can nap or have some quiet activities to participate in individually.”

She said the students benefit academically, socially and emotionally from pre-kindergarten classes.

“Academically, they are exposed to phonics and phonemic awareness programs that build the foundation for reading,” McLeod explained. “Socially they are learning to interact with other students, and this helps them with the self-regulating of emotions.

“Behaviorally, they are learning the expectations that are required to be successful in school.”

She said the school system is “very lucky to have experienced and dedicated pre-k teachers who are very invested in creating successful learners.”

“We love our Pre-K babies, and we are excited to get as many into the classroom setting as we can,” McLeod said.

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