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To stop education achievement gap, kindergarten assessment program starts early
In a few short years, humans go from drooling and staring to "momma" and "dadda," then letters and numbers.
Then comes kindergarten.
For a majority of children, the basic skills needed for kindergarten success are lacking, according to a study presented to the state Legislature by the Department of Early Learning, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and Thrive by Five.
Washington is one of several states looking at a kindergarten assessment program, ensuring that students who enter kindergarten have the necessary skills to thrive in kindergarten and attempt to stop the achievement gap before it starts.
The study included surveys, focus groups, interviews and national research from more than 1,500 Washington teachers, parents and experts.
Currently, 19 states have a statewide kindergarten assessment and many Washington schools have their own. The goal, however, would be to have a regulated system for all schools in the state.
Federal Way does have a Head Start program geared for preschool-age children to help with kindergarten readiness. The program is a free service for families receiving public assistance grants, children in foster care and parents with limited incomes who are working or attending school.
The school district also recommends that students have a few skills before entering kindergarten. Those skills include enjoying someone reading to them; speaking in complete sentences; printing a first name; knowing numbers and quantities to five; naming and sorting items by color, shape and size; being able to concentrate for five minutes; following simple directions; and settling into new groups or situations.
Getting a child ready for school often begins at childcare. However, many parents feel their childcare is inadequate. One in four parents would prefer a different childcare situation if they could afford it, according to a study by Thrive by Five, an early learning advocacy group.
Childcare is an important concern of any parent and often one of the most expensive monthly bills. Licensed infant care costs anywhere from $7,280 to $9,620 a year, according to the study. That’s more than the average state college tuition for the same time period.
However, there is help for parents.
Washington State Child Care Resource and Referral Network is a non-profit group that for a small fee provides education, referrals, community resources and subsidies for families with young children.
The program has more than 2,000 childcare providers in King County in its database, many of whom aren’t listed in the phonebook. Childcare is an ever-changing field due to high turnover rates, according to the study. However, a daycare or preschool is for many children the first step toward kindergarten and being prepared for the social aspects of school.
The state Legislature is expected to make a decision on the next steps for a statewide kindergarten assessment program this year.
On the web:
www.childcare.org: Enter in the type of care needed, location and days and hours care is needed. The Child Care Resources Online displays all providers that match the criteria. Or call (253) 852-3080 and a staff member will work with you.
For more information on Head Start, call (253) 945-2379.
For game and activity ideas to get your child ready for school, visit www.fwps.org/cur/piap/ or www.gettingschoolready.org.