Mifflin opens its doors to prospective families

 Mifflin Elementary hosted a kindergarten open house on Tuesday. (Queen Muse/for NewsWorks)

Mifflin Elementary hosted a kindergarten open house on Tuesday. (Queen Muse/for NewsWorks)

Prospective students and their parents got a chance to see what a typical day is like for kindergartners at the Thomas Mifflin Elementary School in East Falls this week. 

Mifflin Elementary hosted a kindergarten open house on Tuesday, allowing parents and students to sit-in and observe the structure of the school’s two kindergarten classrooms.

Principal Leslie Mason said she wanted parents to leave with an understanding of the school’s ability to encourage solid learning among its young students.

“Most of the children that we got coming in the door, they weren’t reading, they weren’t doing math and now they’re ready for first grade,” Mason said.

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“I’m hoping that the parents, by being able to observe the classes in action are able to see just how far our students have traveled, and that they can see their own four year old or five year old and envision where they’ll be at this time next year.”

No more naps

Kindergarten teacher Victoria Haley said, for many of the students, entering kindergarten comes with some major changes.

“What’s new to them is that they realize it’s no more nap time. They do get some free time, but it’s usually towards the end of the day. I think what’s also new to them is they’re starting to learn how to read and it’s a full day of work. It’s not like preschool,” she said.

According to Haley, Mifflin kindergartners engage in a full day of instruction that begins at 8:45 a.m. and ends at 3:24 p.m. The students learn lessons in literacy, math, social studies and science, and have story time, lunch, recess, and prep time which is spent learning music, gym or art.

Positive parents 

While the Mifflin school has a storied background that includes a 2013 incident where a Head Start student brought drugs to school, prospective parents Erica and Mark Makowski said they were impressed by the school’s kindergarten classrooms, perhaps indicating that parents are leaving the school’s tainted history in the past and looking towards the future.

“I don’t know if it’s because our four year old hasn’t read sentences and stuff but I was very impressed that the children were writing full sentences. I like the structure of the day and the rooms, themselves, are very beautiful,” Erica Makowski said.

Another point that Erica was impressed by was the class size.

According to Mason, the ratio for the school’s two kindergarten classrooms is roughly 1 to 22; a manageable class size for the teachers who have no assistants.

“I think the size of the classes is reasonable, actually. Quite smaller than you’d think that a kindergarten classroom would be,” Erica Makowski said.

On Tuesday morning, Haley led the students in a writing exercise in which she gave them the beginning of a sentence and allowed them to complete the sentence in any way that they chose to.

Mark said he liked that teachers allowed students the freedom to be creative with the assignments.

“I think there’s this kind of freedom that they get, even though they’re so little. I think it’s kind of contagious for them to follow each other, and the teachers allow them to do that. That’s good to see.”

The Philadelphia School District deadline for kindergarten registration is May 30.

Correction: The age of the student involved in last year’s drug incident has been updated. NewsWorks apologizes for the error.

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