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South Dakota Kindergarten Classrooms Expected to be Larger this Year

Kealey Bultena

South Dakota kindergarten classrooms may see more students this fall. That’s because many parents kept their children home during the pandemic.  


Early childhood and pre-K programs are often a good indicator of how many kindergarten students a school district can prepare for. But many South Dakota families don’t have access to such programs. And that leaves schools in the dark. 


Head Start is one of the programs that prepares young children for school.  


Carmen Stewart directs the Head Start program at USD.   


“So, we have some numbers regarding how many children are enrolled in Head Start. But there are so many children that stay at home or receive service in unregulated pre-school or unregulated childcare that it is really hard to get solid numbers as a state,” she said. 


This leaves teachers unsure about how many students to prepare for. Some students receive ample preparation for kindergarten at home, while others receive little support.  


“A kindergarten teacher that first day of school and that first year, they’re really challenged. Because they may have children that a two-year age spread but with lots of different early childhood experiences coming into their door,” she said. 


Stewart says Head Start helps transition students into school. 


She says the program also help parents understand their child’s developmental abilities, and the best options that are available for their education. 

This story comes from a recent interview on SDPB's weekday radio program, "In the Moment." Listen to the full interview below.