The first five years of a child’s life are a time of enormous social emotional, physical and intellectual growth. We know that nearly 1/2 of the children in our community are not prepared for kindergarten ready to learn, every day. We know that children that start school behind, tend to stay behind and that at-risk children without early learning opportunities are 70% more likely to be arrested for a violent crime in their lifetime.
Research shows that learning begins long before a child enters kindergarten. Children, even infants soak up words, rhymes, songs, and images. Vocabulary development is particularly important. A child’s health, and the timely recognition of developmental delays, is another critical aspect of school readiness. Doctors, care providers, and preschool teachers play a key role.
Just as there is an achievement gap in school performance, there is a school readiness gap that separates disadvantaged children from their more affluent peers. As early as 18 months, low-income children begin to fall behind in vocabulary development and other skills critical for school success. Parents play an enormous role in closing this gap, as do daycare providers, pediatricians, preschools programs, and the broader community.
Our goal at the United Way of the Black Hills is to close the school readiness gap. To help families gain the tools necessary to achieve the greatest success in preparing their children for kindergarten. Together, with our community partners, United Way of the Black Hills is working to ensure children enter school ready to learn, improve early reading proficiency, increase attendance and graduation rates.
The first day of Kindergarten is one of the most exciting days of a child’s life.
But if a child isn’t ready, it can be the beginning of a long struggle.