With the approval of $118,828 for kindergarten readiness initiatives in Brown and Clermont counties and the Middletown Area, United Way of Greater Cincinnati is paving the way for increased efforts to ensure children enter kindergarten ready to learn – and succeed.
The Success By 6® Ready Schools Collaborative in Brown and Clermont Counties, entering its fifth year, anticipates adding three new schools during 2014-15, covering 11 districts, thanks to this funding.
Ready Schools bridge the divide as children move from home or preschool to the formal expectations of school.
“They help prepare families for transitions within the system and put into place structures that will help us be better prepared,” says Jina Bohl, director, curriculum and instruction, Western Brown Local Schools, where the program is in place in Hamersvile and Mt. Orab schools. Other districts covered include Batavia, Bethel-Tate and West Clermont.
The Ready Schools collaborative is in its second year in Middletown. “Ready Schools also provide an inviting atmosphere; value and respect all children and their families; are places where children can succeed,” says Debbie Houser, curriculum coordinator, Middletown City Schools.
They are committed to high quality in all areas of learning and teaching; have deep connections with parents and the community; and prepare children for success in work and life.
Activities include early registration, orientation and open houses; basic skills assessment and take-home activities for parents and students; family activity nights; welcome-to-our-school books; transition days; kindergarten teachers as guest speakers at area preschools; district-wide and school building teams; and adult learning communities with all involved parties working together.
"A successful transition into kindergarten can have a positive impact on a child’s future school and life success...”
“The schools participating in the Ready Schools Collaborative have shown higher percentages of early registration; reduced anxiety among children; higher parent satisfaction: and consistently higher scores on state-wide readiness assessments over the last five years,” says Chris Humphrey, manager, United Way Success By 6®.
In addition to funding the ongoing work of the Ready Schools collaboratives, this funding will support:
• Play and Learn Groups to engage families, caregivers and their children who may be at risk of not being ready for kindergarten. The groups will also include outreach to Spanish-speaking families.
“Assessment data confirm that low-income children who are not enrolled in early childhood education programs enter kindergarten less prepared than their peers who have had a center-based experience,” says Humphrey. “But many families face barriers such as cost, hours, availability, and/or transportation.”
In Middletown, many families are served by programs at the Parent Resource Center (a United Way place matters program), where 4C for Children and the Butler County Educational Service Center, United Way agency partners, will collaborate to provide activities for children birth through age 6 and their families.
In Clermont County, 4C for Children and additional United Way agency partners, Child Focus and the YWCA of Greater Cincinnati, will provide community-based play-and-learn groups for children and their in-home child care providers who are family members, friends or neighbors.
• Kindergarten Readiness Forums to continue bringing together school districts, early care and education providers, and non profit organizations to focus on readiness concepts and nurturing partnerships that span early childhood education from birth to third grade.
“Reaching the community’s Bold Goal of having 85 percent of children ready for kindergarten requires a collective effort,” says Humphrey. “These initiatives are intended to support the systems that surround children – families, communities and schools – to ensure that all children have the same chance to succeed as they enter kindergarten and beyond.”