Recent kindergarten readiness results show that only half of Kentucky kids arrived at school ready to do kindergarten work. In response, the Kentucky Department of Education and the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood created a resource to help superintendents improve kindergarten readiness in their communities.
The Superintendents Toolbox serves as a one-stop shop for resources and tested strategies to build meaningful quality early learning opportunities for future students. The Toolbox will be a model to demonstrate how aligned roles and shared responsibility between families, schools, early care providers and community partners can help improve outcomes for children beginning at birth.
Research shows that 90 percent of a child’s brain develops before age five. Therefore, children enter school with varied skills and knowledge based on their access to stimulating age-appropriate interactions in the earliest years of life. For many, kindergarten is too late to catch up to their peers. That is why giving superintendents the necessary tools to engage families and community partners around school readiness is an essential part of improving outcomes for children.
The Importance of Early Childhood Education
According to a survey conducted by ChildTrends in 2011, as many as 40 percent of Kentucky children do not go to an organized setting prior to entering kindergarten. That means nearly half of Kentucky’s children do not attend Head Start, a state funded pre-K program or community-based child care. Improving kindergarten readiness has to go beyond just improving programs. The solution must also involve education professionals, families and local stakeholders so that entire communities are mobilized around holistic approaches to ensure success for the Commonwealth’s youngest citizens.
The Superintendents Toolbox features promising practices from districts to support superintendents preparing to take on the challenge of kindergarten readiness in their own districts. The Toolbox is a resource with specific examples that may be used as a guide to assess existing building blocks and map relevant community partners from districts across the Commonwealth that have found success.
There are undoubtable benefits of enriching interactions between children and caregivers in the early years. Those interactions can take place in high quality early care and education programs as well as in the care of friends and families. High-quality early learning experiences can improve children’s academic performance, build strong social and cognitive skills, reduce the cost of K-12 special education, and increase long-term earning potential, and lower health and criminal justice costs. But early learning goes beyond the program setting and into the home and community. Kindergarten readiness is truly a community-wide issue. Only when entire communities come together and intentionally act to improve outcomes for children, will every Kentucky child be ready to grow, learn and succeed.
The Superintendents Toolbox also includes information about the School Readiness Summit. This annual event, funded by a grant from the National Governor’s Association (NGA), connects school districts, early learning providers and community organizations throughout the Commonwealth to collaborate to improve school readiness. The Toolbox provides resources to Summit participants as well as other early childhood education leaders.