Early Childhood and Elementary Services
Early Child and Elementary Services supports child care programs, preschools, elementary schools and Community Early Childhood Councils in strengthening the services they offer to children and families. Promise Neighborhood provides coaching and classroom interventions that are strengthening the early childhood community in the neighborhood. In the elementary schools, academic coaches tutor students who need extra help to achieve their best.
Through collaboration with other Promise Neighborhood initiatives, this staff strives for these results:
- Children enter kindergarten ready to learn
- Students are proficient in core academic subjects
- Students are healthy
- Students live in stable communities
- Students have access to 21st century learning tools
Councils receive oral health grant
The Kentucky Oral Health Commission recently awarded grants to all three of the Early Childhood Councils (ECC) in the Promise Neighborhood counties. Our early childhood specialists work with these councils to support school readiness. Attention to dental health for children is especially important because dental cavities are the most prevalent chronic disease among U.S. children. More than 40 percent of children have tooth decay when they reach kindergarten.
The new grants will engage parents in oral health training and enlist them in sharing the information with other parents. Staff members participated in writing the winning proposals for their ECCs. Each of the councils appointed our staff members—Jennifer Bryant, Chelsi Hinkle and Megan Ward—to provide the oral health training for parents in their communities.
Video games can entice students to learn math
One of the best ways to reach students is to appeal to their interests. Goose Rock Elementary Academic Specialist Betty Gregory knows that. She likes to talk with students about the importance of math and various ways in which it’s used, pointing out that technology like video games is one of those ways.
Gregory’s approach, plus the individual attention she gives students through tutoring, has proven to work. During the 2013 – 14 school year, she tutored with 41 students who scored apprentice on the state KPREP test. She worked with students and their teacher on a daily basis to ensure these students improved their math concepts and abilities. As a result, 37 students, which was 90 percent of her caseload, improved their scores.
Gregory wants to see the same or better success this year so she’s not forgetting about one piece of what got her there. Video game designers still use math to create those games the students play. “With this notion in mind, I decided to create a bulletin board that centered more on what interested my students. I want them to know that math is amazing because it is used in almost every aspect of our lives.” Gregory wants everyone to know, “Students at Goose Rock Elementary are ready to tackle the game of math.”
Summer is the time to blossom
If a child can identify only one letter of the alphabet, he or she isn’t ready for kindergarten. Jennifer Bryant, Owsley County Early Childhood Specialist, discovered this was true of one of her students so she knew it was time for special summer intervention. Knowledge of the alphabet is one sign that a child may be ready for kindergarten.
At the end of the school year, all three Promise Neighborhood Early Childhood Specialists assessed the learning of their preschool students. Bryant identified students exiting preschool who were just short of being ready for kindergarten then planned home visits to work with them during the summer. “I knew the students well from many months of working in the classroom with them. I knew their strengths and weaknesses. What I didn’t know is how much the students could learn from one or two visits a week,” Jennifer says.
For the student who couldn’t recognize letters, Bryant demonstrated how to use a letter chart to identify three letters of the alphabet. At the beginning of her next visit with the child, Bryant said she couldn’t believe what she found—the student identified all three letters in upper and lower case. “She also used the technique I had shown her to identify the letters we would be working on that day without any assistance from me. She has continued to amaze me with how much she has learned over these short few weeks,” Bryant says.
Thanks to early intervention, this student will begin kindergarten on a level playing field with her classmates.