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‘My First Teacher’ helps parents prepare children for kindergarten

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By Debra Ramey

To quote the title of a well-known book, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”, may have been true 30 years ago, however, that is not the case today. Over a third of children in the U.S. enter school unprepared to learn. They lack the vocabulary, sentence structure, and other basic skills that are required to do well in school. Children who start behind generally stay behind – they drop out, they turn off. 

Before a child starts kindergarten it is expected that they know their ABC’s, count and recognize numbers 1 through 20, basic colors, write their name and perhaps even know a few sight words. 

The LaRue County Early Childhood Council has partnered with LaRue County Health Department through the local Women, Infants and Children program to help parents get their children ready for kindergarten. (WIC is a federal grant program that is administered through local state and county health departments. It provides nutritious foods, nutrition education including breastfeeding promotion and support, and referrals to health and other social services to participants at no charge. WIC serves low-income pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, and infants and children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk.)

Since August 2013, “My First Teacher,” a program created by this partnership, has been providing educational materials that parents can use to promote appropriate development in their child’s readiness for kindergarten.  

Sarah Hornback, director of family service for LaRue County Schools and chairperson of the Early Childhood Council said, “When a parent signs up for WIC, at their first appointment they receive a gift bag that includes an activity book geared toward getting their child ready for kindergarten, information about why it is important parents read with their children and a storybook to get that started.”   

To continue the process of kindergarten readiness, each month there is a new packet made available to parents full of fun educational activities to do with their child and a short evaluation to be completed. When they complete and return three evaluations, the parent will receive a free book.

Hornback said, “they give out approximately 126 bags each month to participants.” 

The importance of reading with your preschooler cannot be over stated, according to Hornback. Children who are read to three times per week or more do much better in later development than children who are read to less than three times per week. It is important to begin reading to your child at an early age. Even by nine months of age, infants can appreciate books that are interesting to touch or that make sounds.

For more information about My First Teacher, contact LaRue County Family Services at 270-358-8334.