Fun comes first in the day with Kids Unlimited Academy’s new morning enrichment block.

For 50 minutes, beginning at 7:30 a.m., students will participate in math, literacy and STEAM games and activities with the goals of classroom readiness and socio-emotional development. The new enrichment period complements KUA’s two-hour afterschool program.

Breakfast is served during morning enrichment. The new block pushed school start time back to 8:30 a.m.

KU CEO Tom Cole characterizes the new morning enrichment as a “buffer” between home and school life. “Creating a welcoming transition,” the period allows staff to “meet and greet” students, who are more capable of calming down and settling into the school day. The new enrichment block, he added, takes into account the realities of many KUA families’ dynamics, which include obstacles to attending school.

“Kids are coming in disheveled,” said Cole. “Kids are coming in hungry, distracted, exposed to any number of other things.”

Year-round school is the latest example of KUA innovations. It was Oregon’s first public school to hold full-day kindergarten before changes in state funding essentially made it mandatory in 2015.

“The data says if you didn’t do it, it’s irresponsible,” said Cole. “As a charter school, we’re able to learn and evolve.”