20231027 110858What is Developmental Kindergarten?

Developmental Kindergarten (DK) is a program designed for students who would benefit from a bridge between preschool and kindergarten.  Students must be age 5 by September 15, to enroll in this program.  Some children, especially those with late spring and summer birthdays, need a little more time to develop academically, socially, and/or emotionally and would benefit from having an extra year before beginning a full day kindergarten program.  

This half-day (morning or afternoon) program is based on the Iowa Core Kindergarten Standards, and includes focused instruction in literacy and numeracy with a strong emphasis on self-regulation and social engagement.  DK is designed to build the necessary social and academic skills for success in all-day kindergarten.  Children who attend DK will go on to Kindergarten the following year.  DK students are reported to the State Department of Education as kindergarten students to receive state funding.  Therefore, returning to kindergarten the following year is considered retained in kindergarten.

How do I know if my child might be a good fit for DK?

The following readiness table was developed to help parents consider whether a DK placement might be appropriate for their child.  We encourage conversations with your child’s preschool teacher.  Ultimately, the decision to attend DK is up to each family.

My child is ready to learn…

Developmental Kindergarten Kindergarten
How to identify and count numbers to 10 How to identify and count numbers to 20
Letter & Sounds

(currently knows very few)

How to use letters and sounds to read simple words

(currently knows many letters and sounds)

How to grip a pencil, form letters, and write name How to use some letters to write simple words (cat, in, up) 
How to listen and follow simple directions and accept redirections from adults How to sustain a given task independently & carry out 2-3 directions 
How to initiate and sustain play with others How to takes turns with others and handle disagreements
How to manage feelings and wait for preferred items or tasks How to handle strong emotions with limited support and wait for longer periods of time
How to follow school and classroom routines How to manage rules, routines, and transitions between activities with limited support

Developmental Kindergarten (DK) Information & FAQs

Our Developmental Kindergarten program is a part of Lawson Elementary in the 2023-2024 school year, and will be moving to Wallace Elementary in 2024-2025. DK follows the same calendar as our elementary schools.  It is a half-day program, where parents are able to request a preference for a morning or afternoon class.  Final placements are made by school staff and preferences will be honored in the order received.  Our DK classes will have approximately 20 students.

Morning Hours: 8:40 – 11:30 a.m.

Afternoon Hours: 12:45 – 3:35 p.m.

Transportation will be provided to and from DK (Lawson Elementary in 2023-2024, and Wallace Elementary in 2024-2025) for students who meet District guidelines.  Students will go to kindergarten the following year and will attend their home school based on their residence and the Johnston Community Schools boundary map.

How is this program different from Kindergarten?

Kindergarten standards, assessment and reporting activities will be applied in the same way as all other kindergarten classrooms; however, the Developmental Kindergarten teacher will be able to slow the pace of instruction to allow more time to meet the needs of the students.  The students will be introduced to kindergarten math & literacy standards, but with the slower pace and ½ day program, we would not expect students to meet all of the kindergarten standards by the end of the school year.  Students ARE considered kindergarten students by the State of Iowa and will be required to participate in state-wide kindergarten assessments.  Additionally, due to the ½ day program, Developmental Kindergarten students will only have PE & Library in their related arts schedule where our Kindergarten program includes PE, Art, Music, Library, & Guidance.

Why can’t my child complete another year of preschool at JELA instead?

The Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program is only available to children who are not kindergarten age-eligible. The school district does not receive state funding for kindergarten age-eligible students to attend preschool.

How do I enroll my child in Developmental Kindergarten (DK)?

Families must complete our online registration process.  You will be able to select DK as the grade level of placement.  There will be a place for you to indicate your preference for the morning or afternoon session. The district has a limited number of DK seats.  Once the seats are full, students will be placed on a waiting list and further communication will come from district staff.

Registering for Developmental Kindergarten

Developmental Kindergarten registration follows the same process as our all-day kindergarten registration, which opens on Feb. 12, 2024. Developmental Kindergarten classes are first come, first serve. If your desired course is already full, add your child to the wait list.

When you register for Developmental Kindergarten, you will need to have:

  1. Proof of your legal address or residence (eg: utility bill, lease or mortgage with your name and address on it).
  2. Your child’s Birth Certificate or birth record from hospital in order to complete registration.
  3. Your child’s Immunization Record.

An official birth certificate (if born in Iowa) may be obtained from the following sources:

If born in Polk County, Iowa
Polk County Administration Building
County Recorder, Room 245
111 Court Ave.
Des Moines, IA  50309-2251
Phone: 286-3781 (Vital Records)
Regarding adoptions: Do not call the Polk County Courthouse, write or visit the Iowa Department of Public Health.

If born in Iowa, outside Polk County
Iowa Department of Public Health
Vital Records, 1st Floor
Lucas State Office Bldg.
321 E. 12th
Des Moines, IA  50319-0075
Phone: 281-4944 (for recorded information)
Mail requests take 30 working days; Personal appearance requests take two working days.

Iowa law requires that all students must be immunized against diptheria, pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus (DPT), polio, rubeola, rubella (measles) before entering school. Three hepatitis B vaccinations are required if the student was born on or after July 1, 1994. At least two doses of Varicella vaccine are required if the student was born on or after September 15, 2003 (reliable history of Chickenpox is also accepted). There must be a physical completed after age 4. Contact your school nurse or physician if you have questions about immunization.

Review the State of Iowa immunization requirements.

Bus Transportation to and from Developmental Kindergarten

Students in the developmental kindergarten (DK) program will be provided transportation as follows:

Morning DK

  • Students living outside of the 1-mile walk zone of their regularly-zoned elementary school can take the bus to their neighborhood school, and then transfer to Developmental Kindergarten being held at Lawson Elementary in 2023-2024, and at Wallace Elementary in 2024-2025.
  • Those living within the 1-mile walk zone of their regularly-zoned elementary school will be responsible for getting to that neighborhood school, where they will then take a district-provided shuttle to the designated DK site.
  • If a student goes to a daycare outside of their home school boundary, the parents or daycare will be responsible to get the student to either their neighborhood school or directly to Developmental Kindergarten, being held at Lawson Elementary in 2023-2024, and at Wallace Elementary in 2024-2025.
  • All morning DK students will then be bussed home within school district boundaries, mid-day via district-­provided transportation at no charge, regardless of their distance from the designated site.

Afternoon DK

  • Students will be bussed from their home or daycare within school district boundaries mid‐day via district-­provided transportation to the designated DK site at no charge, regardless of their proximity to the school.
  • After school, they will be bussed directly to a designated bus stop in their neighborhood, within school district boundaries.

Developmental Kindergarten Open Enrollment

If your developmental kindergartner is an open enrolled student, your child’s placement will be determined in late July or early August. Placement for open-enrolled students is based on class size and availability of space.