Our small school is in a rural, low income/high poverty area. The average grade level Size ia about 75 students with the elementary housing a little over 550 students. Our incoming Kindergartners came from an array of educational backgrounds from neighboring public preschools, to private preschools, to no preschools at all. So the transition, especially the educational one, was always a challenging one. Two years ago, our district began a Pre-K program which consisted of two classrooms. This year, we are up to four classrooms with 20 students in each classroom.
Including the 80 Pre-K students in our district, has made a tremendous difference not only educationally, sharing resources through staff members, but socially as well making the transition to Kindergarten much smoother!
In addition to housing the new preschool classes, an early childhood transitional program was established last year that includes children birth to age five, that will one day join us in our elementary school. This program shares resources and ideas to help parents incorporate literacy (and new this year) STEAM activities at an age appropriate stage.
The early childhood transition program that is held at our school is for children that will one day go to our elementary school. The program has many components with the biggest and most excited being the 1,000 Books B4 Kindergarten. The concept is simple, for children to read 1,000 books before they enter their first day of Kindergarten with the help of their families by reading aloud.
Reading aloud is one of the most beneficial, supplemental, educational activity families can do with their child and the best part-it is FREE!
While researching the program, rewards were something that kept coming up over and over again. Rather than 'just giving the child something', a meeting was had with our Kindergarten team with discussion around the question, "What do you see that incoming Kindergartners are still in need of?"
Their answer was simple:
1) children still not familiar enough with nursery rhymes, and
2) children coming into Kindergarten with no backpack or backpacks that are to small that can't hold everything neatly.
Children will have the opportunity to earn both of these prizes by meeting two prize levels. They will earn a 180+ page nursery rhyme book, with colorful and vivid pictures when they have completed & logged 500 books. It is the hope that the families will start beginning to read the rhymes aloud to begin the early stages of phonemic awareness and rhyming. Children will earn the Jansport backpacks once they have completed and logged 1,000 books. Children come in with 'cute' backpacks all the time at the beginning of Kindergarten, but they are never a big enough size, for whatever reason. Living in such a high poverty area, it is the hope that by families engaging with their children, that is one less cost they have to worry about.
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