Good Beginnings for Kaua‘i keiki

Through a collaborative partnership with Kaua‘i County, Good Beginnings Alliance and Child & Family Service, more children will be ready for school.

This summer there is a Pre-Kindergarten Summer Session Program for children ages 4 and 5 who did not attend preschool. This is at Kekaha Methodist and is being provided by Child & Family Service. This is a free summer program, which will run from June 14 to July 21. Breakfast, lunch and snack are provided for the children.

The Hawai‘i State School Readiness Assessment for the fifth year in a row has collected data from Kindergarten teachers in all of the elementary schools to survey their incoming Kindergarten children in assessing whether the majority of the children are ready for Kindergarten.

Within the last few years, the data has consistently shown that 40 percent of all the children are not ready statewide, and that percentage has increase especially in the areas of literacy and math concepts.

What does Kindergarten readiness mean? Many factors may figure into this. Examples include; can the child follow simple directions such as stand in line and walk in a line? Are they able to listen and understand a story? Can they play well with others? Do they know how to use the materials and put the materials back? Can they identify some of the letters in the alphabet, write their own name, and associate the sounds to the appropriate letter? Can they identify colors, and shapes?

This is only a sample of some of the expectations that are needed to help a child be ready for school. By placing a child in a quality early childhood setting, parents can expect that their child will experience a stimulating and nurturing environment that will develop the “whole child.”

This is the first year that Kaua‘i County, Good Beginnings Alliance and Child & Family Services are collaborating to fill a need on the Westside. This legislation year was filled with budgets cuts that affected services for children and families. Childcare subsidies were also impacted as the amount was drastically reduced, and for some families these subsidies were eliminated.

Dr. Jack Shonkoff, professor of child health and development and founding director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, explained that children’s brains and skills are shaped by the “serve and return” interaction between children and their parents and other caregivers in the community. If these “interactions” are absent, unreliable, or inappropriate they can lead to later learning and behavior problems. Dr. Shonkoff suggests that barriers to educational achievement start emerging as early as 18 months. On the flip side, positive reinforcement and engaged interaction help create a solid emotional foundation that prepares the child for future learning.

If your child is 4 or 5 years old and has had no preschool experience, call Child & Family Service at 245-5914.

• Anna Peters, M.A. CFLE, is the Kaua‘i coordinator of Good Beginnings Alliance in Lihu‘e. Visit www.goodbeginnings.org to learn more.

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