In an effort to better prepare families and students for kindergarten and school success, the Sumner School District is continuing its READY! For Kindergarten program, free for parents and caregivers of infants to preschool age children.
Research shows that when children start ahead, they stay ahead academically, versus when a child starts behind, they tend to stay that way into high school and college, according to Megan Maki, a kindergarten teacher at Crestwood Elementary.
“By giving families the tools and education of a READY! class, we can help them during one of the most critical developmental periods of their child's life,” she said.
The classes are designed for parents, who upon arrival at the sessions are given a kit of tools, puzzles, games and different activities.
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“During the class, we go through different ways parents can play these games and use these tools to support their child’s learning,” said Laurie Sjolund, the district’s Early Learning coordinator.
A different class is offered for each year of a child’s life prior to kindergarten at the three-times a year event. According to Sjolund, this year the program has more families in the class that are entering kindergarten next year, but the program also has tools for parents whose child may not enter kindergarten until 2019.
“The classes are held three times each year, and at each class they get a different set of tools, different activities so that if they start when their child is an infant, by the time their child has entered kindergarten, they will have received 15 different kits and hundreds of different activities and ideas to support their child,” Sjolund said.
According to research done by the Children’s Reading Foundation about the READY! program, a child whose parent or caregiver attended just one class outperform their peers.
“It becomes more of a lifestyle change, the philosophy of the program is to play with a purpose for 10 minutes a day,” Sjolund said. “When we find families returning, they are families who have incorporated that into their life and are being intentional with their play with just a couple minutes a day, and then they have great ideas and resources to be able to support that for their children.”
Kindergarten has changed a lot over the past few years, and the READY! classes give parents a better understanding of what is expected from their child in kindergarten, Maki said.
“I do notice that parents whose children are not quite ready when they start kindergarten know why they are not and have a better ability to work with their child,” she added. “Our READY! parents also have a great camaraderie with each other; the classes are a great place where people from different walks of life are sharing ideas.”
Spring READY! classes are offered Thursday (April 16) at Liberty Ridge Elementary, April 21 at Maple Lawn Elementary and April 28 at Daffodil Valley Elementary.
Families new to READY! classes must attend orientation from 6 to 6:30 p.m. Age level classes will be held 6:30 to 8 p.m. READY! For Kindergarten is offered FREE to families residing within Sumner School District boundaries.
Out of district families are required to pay $60/class. Registration is required. For more information, visit www.readyforkindergarten.org/sumner.