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Hope Christian Preschool will add kindergarten to its offerings

Its preschool program has been offering Christian-based education for years to 3- and 4-year olds. Now, with the 2013-14 school year, Hope Lutheran Church's Christian preschool will enhance and expand its program to include one-half day and full-day kindergarten at its location, 16898 Michael Ave. (at the city's southern limits, off of Highway 316). The kindergarten program is open to the community.

Leah Bernau is the preschool director and she provided background information about this new venture.

Discussion has been under way for several years about possibly adding a kindergarten component to the program, she said.

"Our parents value the Christian education based program we offer here," she said. "There isn't any other option available for them in this area of town."

Hope's kindergarten program will provide required education components for the students so they can transition to a first grade program at another school.

"There will not be a hardship," stressed Bernau.

She has been in contact with the Minnesota Department of Human Service regarding maintaining records and documentation. An addition, a kindergarten teacher position will be filled.

"We ... will follow the guidelines for learners," said Bernau, "so that the students are ready for first grade."

Initial contact with the preschool staff and parents about a possible kindergarten program began more than two years ago, and the reaction was positive. The preschool's school board of directors also discussed the possibility.

This past fall, parents with students in the preschool were again surveyed and asked to share their views. The numbers were positive, said Bernau. Other programs were researched.

The parents of 4-year-olds in the program were asked about their interest in having their children continue in the program.

"There was enough interest," said Bernau, and the decision was made to go ahead.

Hope's kindergarten's "core" offerings will focus on phonics and math.

The Christian-based component will be emphasized. There will be discussion about God and faith, along with some chapel and religion time.

For those in the all-day program there will be more hands-on time focusing and building on the components learned from that morning. Those children in the full-day program will bring their lunch from home.

Parents must provide transportation to and from the church. Bernau did talk to the Hastings Bus Co. about bus transportation, but students would have to take a bus to the Hastings Middle School before transferring to another one, and they would to have to begin their day very early. The decision was made to not use the buses.

Registration and other information about the programs are available on the church's web site: www.hopeofhastings. com, or by calling 651-480-2417. Registration opens Feb. 4. Fees are $250 per student a month for the half-day program and $350 per student for the full-day.

More information about the preschool and kindergarten program will be available at an open house from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21, at the church.