4 Year Old Kindergarten Instruction

Welcome to 4K at The Learning Gardens!

The Learning Gardens has been including kindergarten readiness as an overall goal in our curriculum for numerous years. Our 4K teachers bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to our program. We are proud to be able to offer a Model III program with DPI-licensed teachers in the classroom.

You will continue to see the same lesson plans with age-appropriate, child-directed activities. Teachers will continue to maintain a portfolio on your child which allows them to assess you child’s growth in the classroom and realize any goal areas they may want to work on with your child.

Any changes you do see will be positive, including increased opportunities for parent involvement, more thorough assessments directly related to four year-olds and a better range of services and materials offered that we will gain through our partnership with Madison Metropolitan School District.

Students are able to open enroll at The Learning Gardens through the Madison Metropolitan School District.


Lisa, 4K/Preschool Unit Lead Teacher

I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville in 1988 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education and an emphasis in Early Childhood Education.

I live in Mt. Horeb with my husband, Mike.  I have two grown children, Ashlee and Alex. I look forward to getting to know you and hope we can work together to make your child’s experience in our classroom a success!


MMSD 4K Program Full-day: 

The Learning Gardens hours of operation are from 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Students participate in the MMSD 4K program during the morning hours, from 8:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m., when 4K instruction is counted.  Before and after these hours, children receive “wrap around care.” However, our 4K teachers remain with the children for the full day as learning occurs throughout the day. Tuition is applied at our preschool rate, to cover for non-4k instruction time and wrap around care. Morning snack, lunch, and afternoon snack are included. A $40.00 materials fee is required and payable to the Madison Metropolitan School District. This fee goes towards instructional materials provided by the school district that is provided to TLG.



Frequently Asked Questions

Is there an age cutoff for 4K?

There is an age cut off for children to attend 4K. They must be 4 years old on or before September 1. At this time MMSD does not have a process in place for early entrance to 4K.

Where/how will enrollment occur?

Families can enroll online at mmsd.org/enroll, and then follow up to complete the enrollment process at any K-5 elementary school by printing off their enrollment, and bringing a copy of their child’s birth certificate and proof of address to the school. Those who are not able to enroll online may choose to complete the entire enrollment process at any K-5 elementary school.

When will families be notified of the child’s placement?

Parents will receive an email or letter of their child’s placement within 4 weeks of enrollment. For families applying closer to the start of the school year in September, notifications will be sent within a 2 week timeframe.

Do partnering Early Care and Education (ECE) centers have to accept any family that wishes to enroll for 4K?

Acceptance at any site will be contingent upon space parameters and enrollment requirements set by individual Early Care and Education (ECE) centers. However, partnering ECE centers may not discriminate based upon sex, race, religion, national origin, ancestry, creed, pregnancy, marital or parental status, sexual orientation or physical, mental, emotional or learning disability.

Is there a fee for 4K?

The 4K program is tuition free; however, there is a $40 materials fee families pay at the beginning of the school year.

Will a specific curriculum be required by MMSD?

A curriculum and assessment subcommittee, comprised of MMSD Preschool Resource Teachers as well as ECE providers, has defined that the 4K curricula must be developmentally appropriate, align with the Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards (WMELS) and Accreditation criteria, be play-based, research based, inclusive of culture, race, social class, gender, languages and needs, and designed to promote partnerships with families. Individual centers may design their own unique programming to meet these requirements. MMSD school sites utilize “Creative Curriculum for Preschool, 5th Edition.”

What assessments are used in 4K?

GOLD (Creative Curriculum)

Is 4K required?

Enrollment in 4K is not required by the state of Wisconsin. A law took effect on October 21, 2009 (WI Act 41) requiring attendance for five year olds enrolled in kindergarten. 4K attendance is optional and is not affected by this new law.

What are the days/hours of the program?

The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) requires a minimum of 437 hours of instruction per school year.

MMSD: Early Start Schools – Tuesday-Friday, 7:35 AM to 10:39 AM; 11:20 AM to 2:37 PM

Late Start Schools – Tuesday-Friday, 8:20 AM to 11:24 AM; 12:05 PM to 3:22 PM

ECE Centers: Varies per center site In ECE sites, the center will have discretion, subject to MMSD’s approval, around the weekly days and times of the program, as long as the DPI minimum requirement of 437 hours per year is met. Please note: exact hours for 4K programs in MMSD school sites may vary slightly from year to year based on the school year calendar.

Can 4K programs be multiage?

MMSD is supportive of multi-age environments; MMSD school sites do not have multi-age programs. ECE sites determine if their program will be multi-age. 

What is the required teacher-to-child ratio for a 4K classroom?

DPI does not have a required child/teacher ratio for 4K. MMSD school sites have approximately a 1:18 ratio. ECE centers are City of Madison and/or National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accredited, requiring no more than 1:10 with no more than 20 students in any one classroom.

Parents/families may expect that there would be no fees or a reduction of fees for their child’s extended care at ECE centers due to their participation in the 4K program. How can early ECE providers address this expectation?

By law, all children participating in the collaborative 4K program have rights to a “free public education.” Parents will be asked to complete an MMSD enrollment form, which becomes a commitment for the free services. ECE sites will have their own enrollment forms that indicate the fees for services provided for child care services for the remainder of the day outside of the 437 hours of 4K for those parents requesting the additional care. ECE centers are not required to adjust their fee schedule.

How will children learn, grow and develop?

  • Literacy: vocabulary and language, phonological awareness, letters, words, print, comprehension, books and other texts, and sources of enjoyment

  • Mathematics: numbers; patterns and relationships; geometry and spatial awareness; measurement; and data collection, organization, and representation

  • Science: physical science, life science, and earth and the environment

  • Social Studies: spaces and geography, people and how they live, people and the environment, and people and the past

  • The Arts: dance, music, drama, and the visual arts

  • Technology: awareness of technology, basic operations and concepts, technological tools, and people and technology


Early & Extended Learning

545 West Dayton Street
Room 125
Madison, WI 53703
P: (608) 663-5211
F: (608) 442-3471

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