Early-childhood education is an incredibly smart and vital investment. It focuses on one of our greatest assets; our children. Research shows that the early years in a child’s life, as the human brain is forming, represents a critically important window of time of development for the child.
In recent years, researchers have learned that the human brain develops the vast majority of it’s neurons, and is at it’s most receptive to learning, between birth and three years of age. When we hear “children soak information up like a sponge”, that is exactly what is happening during those first three years. Academic, social, and cognitive skills are key components for the child to be kindergarten ready, and must be taken full-advantage of during that particular window.
Here in our community of Louisville, Kentucky, Kindergarten readiness has never been more of a priority. Recently, community leaders and organizations came together for a conversation specifically on this topic. The conversation included a panel discussion with prominent leaders in Louisville: Dr. Donna Hargans Superintendent of Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS), Joe Tolan President and CEO of Metro United Way, and Steve Conrad Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) Chief.
“It’s cost effective,” Dr. Hargans said, “invest early, and we don’t have to invest later.”
An investment in Kindergarten readiness encompasses the idea that a child enters school ready to engage in, and benefit from early learning experiences that best promote the child’s success. Keep in mind that the only real prerequisite for entering kindergarten is that a child is five years old on or before October 1st.
Ready or not, here they come! And being ready not only will impact their year in Kindergarten, but their entire future, and the rest of society.
“Kids will be in a position to succeed in life,” said Chief Conrad, “kids are not predestined to become criminals; they typically aren’t getting what they need.”
What a child needs to TRULY be Kindergarten ready, according to Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS), is knowledge in these areas:
- General Knowledge of Mathematics – such as counts in a sequence up to 30.
- Self-Help Skills – such as uses the toilet without help.
- Language and Communication Development – such as sings simple songs.
- Health and Physical Well-Being – such as eats a balanced diet.
- Social and Emotional Development – such as works well alone.
Please see this detailed chart for the entire list of recommended learning in each of these categories, and other helpful learning resources to prepare children for Kindergarten.
Tolan said that there is “opportunity and urgency” when it comes to children being ready to enter Kindergarten, and we need to continue to “raise community awareness”.
Our partnership with Metro United Way The Excellence Academy Early Learning Centers focuses on “training excellent teachers”, “inspiring excellent kids”, “creating excellent classrooms”, and “achieving excellent results”. The Excellence Academy is one of many ways that we and our incredible partner Metro United Way work to support education in our community and raise that awareness. The academies directly align with Metro’s long-term community aspirations that all children will enter Kindergarten ready to learn; with the eventual result that all youth will graduate from high school on time and be well prepared for college, work, and life.
What an investment in the first 3 years makes!