January 11th, 2016
by Katrina Brooke
Kindergarten is often seen as the starting point for formal education in the United States.
Students learn routine, basic associations between shapes, numbers and how to write their own names. Kindergarten helps to set up students for upcoming grade levels and provide them with consistent core concepts to further education.
But what happens when a student comes to kindergarten and they lack the skills to set them up for these lessons?
That is where Lincoln County School Districts has come in to assist, with a series of early learning programs and resources for both pre-kindergarten students and parents.
These programs range from teen parent assistance and parenting workshops to kindergarten readiness classes.
“It’s intended for parents and children to figure out if they can do certain things,” Lincoln County School District Superintendant Steven Boynton said during a regular reporter roundtable on Dec. 17 with local media. “It has really helped parents get a better understanding of what we are talking about when we say school-ready skills.”
Boynton said that sometimes parents feel reluctant to attend the parenting section of early education classes.
“We have to overcome a social stigma,” he said. “I took parenting classes when my child was two-years-old. I know more as a result.”
According to the Washington State Department of Early Learning, early learning programs create long-term benefits for children and families.
Based on longitudinal research spanning 40 years, early learning programs have been shown to increase school readiness, reading and math skills, high school graduation and college enrollment, family wages and community engagement.
Early learning programs have also been shown to create lower rates of incarceration, dependence on public assistance and have a great impact for low-income children.
Kindergarten readiness resources come in two forms — the LIFT (Learning Is Fun Together) class and the “I can be ready for kindergarten” school readiness resources available at LCSD’s website, lincoln.k12.or.us.
LIFT classes are for children ages three- to five-years-old and their parents. It is based on the philosophy that parents are the most important teachers of their children and that the best learning comes from a playful environment.
LIFT classes for Lincoln City can be found at the Taft High 7-12 Community Preschool, Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. they are free to children living in homeless living situations.
“I can be ready for kindergarten” provides a list of tasks that students should be able to perform before attending kindergarten and things that parents can do to help.
This ranges from early literacy to math and social skills.
Examples of these skill sets involve being able to hold a book upright and turn pages, make and recognize rhymes, count to 20 and complete tasks involving two or more steps.
To help foster skills like these, parents can teach their children new words, provide them access to books and magazines and encourage independence.
“The list is not written in academic language, but very plain English and Spanish so people can understand,” Boynton said.
Boynton said that discussing and bringing light to early education programs is a benefit to the community.
“We are always looking to expand our programs and our influence,” he said. “Our network of volunteers and community partners is more extensive than any place I’ve ever been. I’m not sure that it’s ever enough, and we can always make it better. That’s what we do everyday.”