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More than a fifth of the incoming kindergarteners registered in the Madison School District will be more ready for school this fall after attending a six-week summer program.

The full-day K-Ready program helps children prepare for kindergarten by working on academic readiness skills such as letter recognition, name writing and counting. They also have the opportunity to learn what school is like, how to get along with others, and how to listen to a teacher.

This summer, the program grew to a new high of 460 students - about 22 percent of projected kindergarteners.

Fakeith Hopson enrolled his daughter, Aniyah, who will attend Leopold Elementary School, in the K-Ready program at Huegel Elementary School and was impressed by the strides she made in counting and saying her ABCs. She also learned how to tie her shoes.

"She is learning better social skills," Hopson said while the program was in progress. "Now she comes home and tells me everything about school and how much fun she is having."

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Students were invited to attend the program based on the results of their kindergarten screening last spring.

The program was held at the six elementary summer school sites. Teachers were with students in the morning and Madison School and Community Recreation staff members worked with the children in the afternoon.

Sara Batesky, who was one of the teachers at the Huegel site, said the children, who have mostly had little or no preschool experiences, learn about routines and following directions. As a bonus, Batesky will have some of the children from K-Ready in her classroom this fall at Leopold Elementary School.

John Burkholder, who oversaw the Huegel site and will be the Leopold principal during the school year, said the children typically make significant progress in six weeks. Their participation in the K-Ready program benefits all students because it helps even out their skill levels.

"It helps the child feel safe, more secure and less fearful," said Julie Padley, another K-Ready teacher who will teach some of the same students at Chavez Elementary School this fall. "They know what to expect. That's the biggest thing we are giving them."

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