Early Learning Opportunities Matter
The success of children in later years depends heavily upon their readiness to begin kindergarten. The first few years of education are the most crucial to establishing a solid foundation from which children can adapt to school systems and learn successfully. During this period, children develop primary skills that form the foundations of reading, mathematics, and social interaction.
The Need is High for Quality Early Learning Opportunities
Too many children living in low-income households in St. Joseph County has no access to high-quality early childhood education programs that could prepare them for kindergarten. Of the more than 6,000 children in St. Joseph County living in low-income households, only about 600 have access to high- quality early learning environments.
“This program provided more than literacy awareness, but also the ever important social-emotional development.” – Sherri Jackson, SBCSC Camp Instructor
By utilizing Pearson’s Get Ready to Read literacy assessment, each camper was evaluated at the beginning and end of camp in order to measure gains in their literacy skills. At the conclusion of all eight camps, literacy skills assessment scores showed an average increase of 37% this summer! Campers were able to engage with instructors and aides to practice in small groups and one on one to identify letters, practice sounds, and gain confidence in their abilities!
A Collaborative Effort
The success of these Camps comes from strong community partnerships, including the following:
– Bowsher-Booher Foundation
– City of Mishawaka
– Crowe Horwath Foundation
– Indiana United Ways
– Judd Leighton Foundation
– Monogram Foods
– PNC Foundation
– Pokagon Fund
– Staples Foundation
With continued financial support and additional community partners, United Way of St. Joseph County’s Kindergarten Readiness Camps can grow and provide opportunities to address the need for high quality early learning experiences for our most vulnerable citizens. Additional funding can increase the number of Camps offered as well as providing additional aides in each camp for one on one interaction and assistance. Sponsorships of school supplies can further decrease the burden of back to school costs for these families. Additional community partners could provide wrap-around services for the campers and their families, including on-site immunizations and vision/hearing screenings or information for caregivers on local resources regarding their child’s development and family supports.