WIESBADEN, Germany - U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden Child Development Centers introduced a new program Jan. 5 aimed at helping children better prepare for school.

USAG Wiesbaden was selected as one of the overseas pilot sites to offer the new program.

The Installation Management Command-Europe pilot program, "Strong Beginnings Pre-K," focuses on youngsters' social, emotional and physical development while equipping them with the basic academics and "kindergarten etiquette" skills to enhance school readiness, said Cecilia Kandler, USAG Wiesbaden Child, Youth and School Services coordinator.

Children entering kindergarten in fall 2009 are eligible for the program, which is offered Monday through Friday.

"Strong Beginnings is a five-day program because children attend school five days a week," said Kandler, explaining that the program mirrors the Department of Defense Dependents Schools' school year calendar.

Care for children of working parents is provided before and after Strong Beginnings classes, she added.

With a curriculum based on the Creative Curriculum program, a widely used early development program in the United States, a typical week might include the following academic schedule: Monday: Language/Literacy; Tuesday: Mathematics; Wednesday: Science and Technology; Thursday: Social Studies; Friday: Physical Development.

Classrooms feature several learning stations including: math, science/discovery, language/literacy, writing, art, creative expression, sand and water, technology, blocks/construction, music/movement, fine motor, rotated woodworking and cooking.

"We now have early learning standards," said Cynthia Bommarito, USAG Wiesbaden CYSS training and curriculum specialist, "that say these are skills children must have in order to enter kindergarten."

Bommarito, who attended training stateside to prepare for the new program, said, "It's designed to prepare children to be ready to go to kindergarten. We're doing more intentional teaching."