Kindergarten today looks more like yesterday’s first grade.
Parents and educators tend to be in agreement that preschool education helps children enter kindergarten ready to thrive with the social, emotional, cognitive and communication skills they need.
Still, in 2012, nearly half of kindergartners entering schools in many of our communities had no preschool experience. The statistics speak for themselves; for example, 60 percent of children entering school for the past three years in many of our community’s schools, cannot pass initial readiness assessments.
Imagine being the teachers in the class where 12 out of 20 students are not prepared to be in your classroom. Also, imagine what the classroom is like for the eight students who are prepared as the majority of attention is required for the unprepared students.
With increased economic challenges for many families coupled with increasing required state standards and mandatory testing, the need is greater than ever for quality preparedness programs.
Parents as Teachers of Porter County has partnered with Portage Township Schools to provide “Ready, Set, Kindergarten (RSK)” programs in the eight elementary schools within PTS. RSK is a program developed by Parents as Teachers and differs from traditional preschool, as it is more of a simulation of a school year of kindergarten. RSK provides children, who will enter kindergarten in the following school year, a group setting to learn and practice skills need to be ready for school.
RSK supports the child’s natural curiosity and provide diverse ways of learning. The goals of RSK are simple, yet critical.
• Prepare students in alphabet awareness, print concepts and basic reading skills
• Prepare students to follow directions in a variety of settings and on a consistent level
• Prepare students to demonstrate self and impulse control, and to have appropriate relationships with other children and adults
• Prepare students to problem solve in academics and personal decisions
• Prepare students to handle the social and emotional demands that school requires
The children meet in a group setting and participate in a year-long “run through” of all the experiences they will face as they enter school (including circle time, center based math reading work, hands on science and nature activities, library time, physical education and the requirement of class rules). The children are guided to the ability to practice and master the basic skills that will allow them to enter school prepared and excited to learn. RSK activities are directly correlated to state standards.
Parents are also able to participate in RSK activities by volunteering in the classroom. This provides the parents the opportunity to observe their child in an educational setting and learn first-hand future expectations of their child.
Through additional support from Porter County Community Foundation, Success by Six and Learning by Giving Foundation, there are spots for 192 children for this opportunity. The classes will meet one day per week in the elementary school they will attend in fall 2014. This gives the child and the family the unique experience to get to know their home school and some of its faculty in advance.
Parents as Teachers provides the curriculum and leads each of the classes. Enrollment is underway and will continue until the spots are full. This is a first come first serve opportunity. Please call Parents as Teachers at (219) 395-8412 to enroll your child.
This column solely represents the writer's opinion.