Through community conversations with local teachers, we've been told that 50% of our students are not prepared for Kindergarten. School readiness is a significant and growing topic. Whether the focus is on achievement gaps, vulnerable children or graduation rates, the underlying factor is that many of our children are not prepared for school, and we need to do more to help them be successful.
We have also found through our Community Needs Health Assessment that only 35% of children are being read to everyday. Children who are read to everyday perform better in school and on standardized tests. To promote early literacy, we fund the local Dolly Parton's Imagination Library program to deliver one book a month to enrolled children from birth to age 5.
We have distributed thousands of Getting Ready for Kindergarten Calendars, and we have partnered with local elementary schools to send hundreds of children to Kindergarten Camp. Kindergarten Camp is a week-long experience for students entering Kindergarten who are identified through screening as needing additional preparation. These students are taught social skills, how to properly follow instructions, fine motor skills and writing their name.
"The students begin the week very timid, but by the end of the week, most of the students are very confident and can find their way around. When they come back the following week for school to begin, the "campers" are showing others how to find their rooms. Wow, what a difference just one week makes for these kids,” said Cindy Edwards, Defiance Elementary School teacher.