Pharos-Tribune

Opinion

May 8, 2014

STERRETT: The Beginnings of Begindergarten

With Kindergarten RoundUp under our belts, we are now faced with the task of “Rounding Up” kids for Begindergarten.

Begindergarten is a funded school readiness initiative of the United Way of Cass County. Each child who went through kindergarten roundUp was screened with an assessment tool put together by local kindergarten teachers and the Reading Railroad. This screening tested basic skills such as colors, shapes, letters, and numbers. Based on the score from this screening, a child’s eligibility for Begindergarten is determined. This is the task we, at the Reading Railroad are currently undertaking. Scoring, scoring, scoring!

With more than 330 screenings completed, the Reading Railroad will take this information and identify 100 children who could use that extra boost before entering kindergarten this fall. This is an amazing opportunity for the children and families of our county. With over 40 percent of our local children currently not ready for kindergarten in August, this is the opportunity our children need to prepare for success in school starting in kindergarten and beyond!

Begindergarten is a six-week program offered during the summer, free to those who qualify. Students who attend are given the opportunity to get 90 extra hours to strengthen their skills before kindergarten officially begins. This summer we will have 100 children in six classrooms learning and growing. With fully credentialed staff, and our program housed at the Head Start building in Logansport, we are setting the stage for an amazing summer adventure for these children. Begindergarten is full of learning, experiences, friendships and getting adjusted to a school environment. Many of these children have never been to preschool, and will experience all that school has to offer for the first time during Begindergarten.

In 2013, Begindergarten children rose from 45 percent mastery of kindergarten skills on average, to an amazing 89 percent mastery of those same skills in the short six-week time frame. One of our success factors is the use of assessments throughout the program to track student growth. Through these assessments, teachers are able to see what skills a student is learning. Teachers constantly differentiate their instruction to meet the needs of each individual child. Begindergarten is a fun summer learning program that not only gives each child a boost, but keeps them focused on what they need to know in August.

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