The first day of Kindergarten is often more emotionally difficult for parents than it is for students. You’ve equipped them with bright golden pencils, name-brand markers, glue sticks, and other school supplies. Standing there in the doorway, the child’s oversized backpack seems to overwhelm their little body. They’re excited and impatient to go and you’re standing there with overwhelming emotions and wondering if they’re ready to start an academic career that will span their next 13 to 17 years.
If you knew you could give your child an extra edge for success when they first started school, wouldn’t you try it? While even the brightest golden pencil won’t ensure that your child will have a successful first year of school, there are programs that can help them start school mentally and socially equipped. The United Way of Greater St. Joseph has an initiative called Success by Six that focuses on early childhood education and kindergarten readiness.
Success by Six works with children, parents, early education teachers, childcare providers, and local business partners in helping the next generation of St. Joseph’s citizens get a strong start academically and socially before entering kindergarten. Children who start school off armed with the knowledge of certain basics will be able to navigate through their first year and absorb knowledge and skills more quickly than other children.
Kindergarten today has many more expectations than it did 30 years ago. Success by Six provides Parent Resource Kits and programs like Jumpstart and Kinderclub offer parents activities to share with their child in the process of bonding and building up their knowledge and skills for Kindergarten. Information recorded over the last few years indicates that half of St. Joseph’s new Kindergarteners are walking into school with the skills they need to successfully start school.
Through programs like Adventures in Parenting and Getting Ready for Baby, Success by Six also helps parents teach their children basic skills like self-control, potty-training, and other skills they’ll need in order to respect friends and teachers and interact socially with others Success by Six even offers parents places like Bartlett Park’s Play Path to help their child enjoy and explore the outdoors together.
Through community networks, Success by Six provides support to children, parents, and the childcare workers who are also their first teachers. They offer training workshops and scholarships to help childcare employees further their education in early childhood.
Success by Six also reaches out to the business community in preparing St. Joseph’s next families, employees, and community decision-makers. Business partners have opportunities to work with children in childcare centers. Both business partners and children benefit from these playful and educational interactions. Children learn new skills, and have fun sharing their young dancing, puzzle-making, singing, or block-building skills with an adult who takes complete interest in them at that moment. Business employees come away with satisfaction that they left a wonderful impression on that child when they helped a child form some alphabet letters with Play-Doh or inspired the proud smile of a child who just shared with them how they could read the word “school.”
Through programs like Success by Six, parents can look at that backpack-clad new Kindergartener and smile in reassurance that they indeed are ready for school and it will be a great beginning to all those years of school ahead.