Participating Libraries
Boise Public Library
Coeur d’Alene Public Library
East Bonner County Library
Franklin County District Library
Gooding District Library
Jefferson County District Library
Kuna Library District
Meridian Library District

Boise Public Library

Main Branch, Boise

Awarded: $7,500

  • Ongoing

Partners: STEM Action Center, Boise School District

Project:

The Boise Public Library used the grant funds to run a program titled “Kindergarten Lions” at the library and one of the school district preschools, which provided weekly workshops for a seven-week session. The focus was on developing early literacy practices, motor skills and STEM content. Participating families received an activity booklet each week, materials and resources to engage in those activities, and a backpack of school supplies.

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Children served
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Families served
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Library cards issued

Best Practices:

  1. Creating a family-focused and engagement program: Several of the families attending our program mentioned how they enjoyed how engaged the parents/caregivers were with their children in the program versus normal storytimes or programs when parents/caregivers tend to check out.
  2. Having programs outside of normal working hours: Out of the three times we offered our program, the Saturday class was by far the most well-attended and most engaged. Working parents were extremely grateful to have an option to attend outside of work and not in the evening when they are picking up their child, eating dinner, and doing nighttime rituals.
  3. During each week we suggested activities for parents/caregivers to do at home with their child based on that week’s theme. Many of the activities required families to check out items from the library, requiring families to create library cards, or on each activity booklet we placed “get a library card” on the list.

Biggest Success:

Family Engagement. Each of the families attending highly rated our program and said they would suggest it to a friend/family member. The families that attending the in-library programs felt more connected to their child and to other families attending the program and had a higher rate of doing the early literacy activities at home.

Caveats:

  1. Relying on schools to dictate information to parents. We relied on the schools to tell us what they needed in terms of promotional materials and support but what we should have done was over-send promotional materials and send an update to the teachers each week to make sure they were staying aware of the program and reminding their families to attend.
  2. Registrations for long periods of time. Our original plan for this program was to have families attend one program each month for seven months. Instead we pushed together our timeline and had one program each week for seven weeks. While this was beneficial in that families could attend a shorter period instead of committing to half a year, many families felt like they had to put a lot of their personal lives on hold for seven weeks to attend the program each week. They said it felt like more of a commitment to attend once a week versus once a month.
  3. Time line: Having the program take place in the spring before kids are going into Kindergarten was not the best time. Parents would rather have the program in the summer, closer to the time their child will be entering Kindergarten.
  4. If I were to do a program with our local schools again I would bring them in on the planning decisions, so they could tell us what they see as a need and what they would like to see happen, versus us creating a program and then making it fit at the schools for their population and needs.

Biggest Challenge:

Spreading the word about our program to our partner schools. Many schools already have their own version of Kindergarten Readiness or they had READY! workshops and were not interested in another program. Because of this we moved the program to the library, which turned out to be fantastic and the families were more engaged at the library than at the school’s location.

Evaluation:

Pre- and post- evaluation, broken up into sections such as family engagement, social-emotional skills, early literacy skills, large and fine motor skills, and kindergarten readiness skills. (See Documents for Post Survey) Family engagement increased from the pre- and post- surveys (reading aloud together, eating dinner together, playing games together, attending other library programs).

As a whole, the following also increased: Children’s abilities to separate from their parents/caregivers and regulate their emotions, identifying letters and ability to write their names, using scissors well, tracing, and other early literacy skills.

DOCUMENTS AND RESOURCES

Kindergarten Lions Pre Survey

Kindergarten Lions Post Survey

Backpack contents and other resources given to families at workshops:

  • 7 activity booklets
  • 2 books
  • Backpack full of Kindergarten supplies suggested through Boise School District
  • STEAM manipulative: translucent pattern blocks with design suggestions
  • Family Reading Engagement Pack for Kindergarten (Lakeshore Learning)
  • Lion puppet

Activity Booklets:

CONTACT INFO

Trisha Mick
Youth Services Librarian

tmick@cityofboise.org

PROJECT GALLERY PICS

Coeur d’Alene Public Library

Awarded: $7,500

  • Ongoing

Partners: Coeur d’Alene School District, United Way, Opening Books Opening Doors, Community Library Network

Project:

The Coeur d’Alene Public Library took a multi-pronged approach with their grant funds. A mobile lab was created that went to preschools and low-income housing common areas as a “pop-up library,” along with quality story time programming. They also offered “Ready! For Kindergarten” classes at the library and sent literacy kits home with families attending the training. Take-home literacy kits were also created and made available for general checkout. See “Documents and Resources” for photos and more details about the project.

 

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Children served
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Families served
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Library cards issued

Best Practices:

  1. Partnering with United Way of North Idaho to offer Ready! for Kindergarten classes at the library.
  2. Using Osmo with the iPads – provided children with practice in sharing, taking turns, following directions and problem-solving and well as content. (We were able to purchase 5 bases from other STEM money)
  3. Using iPads with Epic! and TumbleBooks – Enlarged text as word was spoken providing print awareness and one-to one correspondence skills. (Having a portable charging station is a must!)

Biggest Success:

Ready! for Kindergarten classes was certainly one of them. It brought families into the library, familiarized them with all of the resources available at the library. Many signed up or renewed their library cards as well. The checkout rate for the literacy kits skyrocketed. The new literacy kits were a big hit, as well. As soon as I could get them on the shelf for checkout, they were gone.

Caveats:

  1. Some on-line resources that are free to use are not available outside of school hours or on weekends (Epic! & ABCya)
  2. Smarty Ants® was not easy to set up for a library “Class”. Each parent had to respond to an email, then communicate the login information to the library. The library then had to set up a “class” and it was too difficult to get everyone to participate under those circumstances. So, we used Epic!, TumbleBooks and ABCya instead.
  3. For some free on-line programs, the “free” part is limited in iPad apps and you might consider Chromebooks instead… but those may be more challenging for pre-k kids, or else pay for in-app purchases.

Biggest Challenge:

Smarty Ants® – see above. Also, arranging iPad use with some preschool classrooms. Teachers are justifiably concerned about screen time and time-wasting activities. Once we got rolling with one daycare, others were interested. Then the challenge was scheduling.

Evaluation:

  1. Pre and Post surveys of Ready! participants – Before any of the 3 Ready! for kindergarten classes, parents were surveyed about their home literacy environment and practices. After the 3 classes they were surveyed again.
  2. Surveys after each Ready! class to determine participants’ experience of the class, effectiveness of the trainers, and the most important learning take-aways from each class. Many parents responded that they appreciated learning the milestones and benchmarks expected for kindergarteners. Almost all commented about the free kits AND the training on how to use best use them.
  3. Checkout rates and surveys for the literacy kits available in the library: evaluations for the literacy kits have provided excellent feedback for improvements, and ideas for new literacy Kits. Once parents became aware of the literacy kits, the checkout rate increased.
  4. Number of library cards issued to 4-year-olds in connection with any grant events.
  5. Teacher anecdotal records from iPad use at preschools: Pre-schoolers learned how to turn on, care for and use iPads successfully. They also increased their sharing, problem-solving and turn-taking behaviors while sharing iPads with a partner. Epic! website recorded over 600 on-line books read on our iPads. Osmo provided hands-on practice sight words and tangrams. Teachers recorded incidents of students remembering a sight word after using the Osmo iPad. There was also an increased interest in Tangrams and blocks reported in one classroom after having used the Osmo tangram program.

DOCUMENTS AND RESOURCES

CONTACT INFO

Charlene Beach
Outreach Librarian

cbeach@cdalibrary.org

PROJECT GALLERY PICS

East Bonner County Library

Main Library, Sandpoint

Awarded: $7,500

  • Ongoing

Partners: Head Start, Kootenai Elementary School

Project:

The East Bonner County Free District Library took a multifaceted approach with its grant funds. A portion of the funding was used to launch the “1000 Books Before Kindergarten” program with online options. The library also purchased Launchpad Early Learning tablets for circulation and developed early literacy activity kits, which were developed by the Head Start curriculum specialist. A portion of the award was used to work with Kootenai Elementary to add books to their preschool collection and open the library for preschool use. The library also attended several “Ready! for Kindergarten” events, at which they signed up children for library cards.

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Children served
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Families served
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Library cards issued

Best Practices:

  1. Outreach. We did five outreach events at events for young children to issue library cards. Events lasted, in general, 45-60 minutes. Three of the events were at Ready for Kindergarten programs, in which parents of children ages 0-5 attend classes to learn strategies to help them get their children ready to attend kindergarten. One was at Head Start’s Strengthening Families Event. The last was at a Kindergarten Round-Up event.
  2. 1000 Books before Kindergarten: Well-branded, appealing art and book bags. Options for both online and paper participation.
  3. Literacy kits

Biggest Success:

Our 1000 Books program has been available to the public for just over three months. Forty-eight children have earned the first prize – a bookbag – for reading 100 books during that time. While many of those families are families who bring their children to storytime, others are Head Start and Early Head Start families. This feels like a good number for such a short timeframe.

Caveats:

  1. Find a good way to market Launchpads. They are not checking out as much as we had anticipated. When we put the cases out, they got swiped, and now everything is kept behind the circulation desk where they are invisible.
  2. We have great books and fun CDs in our literacy kits. However, our manipulatives have many small pieces. I think we should have purchased manipulatives with fewer pieces.
  3. Find a good way to build a learning component for parents into the 1000 Books program. I am considering adding a very brief handout on a new “skill” at each prize level.
  4. Design evaluation and tools before launching programs.

Biggest Challenge:

The timeframe was our biggest challenge. Because we wanted library-specific art for our 1000 Books program, after receiving the grant, we had to hire an artist. We had to work with her timeframe AND then the timeframe of the company who printed our bookbags and sewed our patches. It was the end of February before we could launch our program to the public.

Evaluation:

1000 Books Parent Survey: All parents marked that they were reading more to their children. Other possible results that were marked by a majority of parents included that their children showed more interested in reading, knows more vocabulary, and listens for longer periods of time.

Circulation statistics for Launchpads

Data from Kootenai Elementary Preschool Program

DOCUMENTS AND RESOURCES

1000 Books Before Kindergarten Survey

Website: http://www.ebonnerlibrary.org/index.php/services/kids-and-families

CONTACT INFO

Suzanne Davis
Children’s Librarian

suzanne@ebonnerlibrary.org

PROJECT GALLERY PICS

Franklin County District Library

Larsen-Sant Branch, Preston

Awarded: $10,000

  • Ongoing

Partners: Franklin County Health Department, Franklin City Council, Preston and Westside school districts

Project:

The Larsen-Sant Library reached out to every one of the estimated 300 pre-kindergarteners in its community by providing literacy kits to them all. The kits included a library passport that encouraged visits to the library, as well as alphabet, number, and shapes learning games; a music cd; a book; a writing kit in a bag; information about Smarty Ants®, TumbleBookLibrary, and DaybyDayID.org, and library program information. Kits were distributed by the library’s partners. The library also began hosting outreach storytimes at the community center in Franklin, specifically targeting Spanish-speaking families.

 

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Children served
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Families served
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Library cards issued

Best Practices:

  1. Outreach: Many families who attended our outreach program would not have attended our regular Storytime program at the Library because of distance. Kindergarten Readiness skills were taught at our outreach programs and students who attended showed a marked improvement because of attendance.   (see presentation under “Resources” below)
  2. Collaboration: Collaboration has been a large part of the success of this grant. It was key to getting the Early Literacy kits into the homes of the children. Without the collaboration of the Library, school districts, health department, pre-schools, Head Start, and local communities, the number of children reached would have been relatively few. You must get out there and ask and involve your community to get the required results for the program. Community partners are a huge key to success.
  3. Community Awareness:  As our library worked at putting our Early Literacy Kits into the homes of each child, more of the community members became aware of the need for the program and were anxious to participate in promoting awareness. Community awareness of the need for this program is a vital key to change and improvement for the preschoolers in our community.

Biggest Success:

Early Literacy kits distributed to almost every four-year-old in our community.  The kits included a Library Passport that the children could bring into the library for three different visits. Each visit the child would receive a stamp in their passport and choose a book to take home. These passports had a twofold purpose. 1)Bring the child into the library and receive a library card and learn of the services provided by the library.  2)  Free books that would be in the home and the child would have access to anytime.  (see presentation under “Resources” below)

Caveats:

We had high expectations of reaching the Spanish speaking population with our outreach program. We hired a translator, went to a highly-populated Spanish speaking area, advertised within their circles, but still only reached a couple of families. We will keep trying.

Biggest Challenge:

Making and putting together over 300 kits. We have an amazing staff who put many hours into the Early Literacy Kits. Community volunteers took home laminated items and cut and put things together. It was a huge undertaking, but a rewarding one. The other challenges were reaching the Spanish population (see above) and getting children to come in to the library with their passports.

Evaluation:

Passport Return data

Surveys for Kits and Storytimes

DOCUMENTS AND RESOURCES

CONTACT INFO

Teresa Rasmussen
Assistant Director

teresar@larsensantlib.org

PROJECT GALLERY PICS

Gooding District Library

Awarded: $10,000

  • Ongoing

Partners: South Central Public Health District WIC, Gooding School District, North Valley Academy, and local migrant worker programs

Project:

The Gooding Public Library used grant funds to provide designated children’s computers in the library and iPads and hotspots that were used at its partners’ locations to access early literacy resources. The library also provided kindergarten readiness programming.

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Children served
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Families served
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Library cards issued

Best Practices:

  1. Kindergarten readiness workshops where families are given materials to use at home to practice these skills. We wrote a grant to the Idaho STEM Action Center to have early STEM parent workshops. We held these workshops at the same time as our kindergarten readiness workshops. This allowed us to have funds to pay for dinner to be served each night of the workshop and for childcare for the children.
  2. Kindergarten readiness kits to take home and practice skills and spend time learning together.
  3. We added children’s computers with kindergarten readiness apps for families to use in the library but also in events in the schools. We took our hotspots for them to be able to sign up for Smarty Ants® and other learning apps to help their children.
  4. Partnering with WIC, Schools, and our Latinos in Action Group. They all worked hard to send families to us and to spread the word about our programs.

Biggest Success:

We had 12 families attend our kindergarten readiness workshop. Three families came from WIC, six families were Hispanic and five new library cards were made to these families. I consider that a major success. While I was doing the Jumpstart program during kindergarten registration, two of these families told me how well their children did on the screening. Both parents told me that because of attending the workshop they knew how to help their child be ready. They gained the skills necessary to help them know how to help their child. They all loved the kits that they got to take home and keep.

Caveats:

  1. Partnering with WIC did not go as we had planned, due to changes in how they are issuing WIC checks to the families (see below). We worked around it by giving them books to give away with flyers in them for families to bring back to us for more free books.
  2. We should have held our kindergarten readiness program earlier in the year to give the families more time to put into practice what they had learned.

Biggest Challenge:

Our original plan was to go to WIC appointments and give parents a book and sign them up for Smarty Ants®. They changed how often families needed to come in to get checks. We would have had to spend seven days a month for four months to get to all the families. We didn’t have the staff to cover that much time away from the library.

Evaluation:

  1. Surveys in kits: Didn’t have many returned.
  2. Surveys at workshops: Good feedback from the surveys we did at the workshops. It is much easier to get those back when they are here in the building. We also held back the last of the manipulatives and books until we had received their surveys.
  3. Key findings: Parents don’t know that they need to be their child’s first teacher. They don’t know what they need to know before kindergarten or have the materials to teach these skills. “These have been the best classes I have ever attended. I feel like I was taught how to teach my child. I didn’t know that my daughter needed to know these things before I came to this class.  I play, read, sing, and do learning activities with my children now. I feel like I am better prepared to help my child be successful.”

DOCUMENTS AND RESOURCES

CONTACT INFO

Cindy Bigler
Director

goodingpubliclibrary@gmail.com

PROJECT GALLERY PICS

Jefferson County District Library

Hamer Branch

Awarded: $2,500

  • Ongoing

Partner: Hamer Elementary School

Project:

The Hamer Branch of the Jefferson County District Library used grant funds to create a dedicated computer station for access to children’s educational resources such as Smarty Ants™, TumbleBooks™, and other preschool apps. The library also created portable preschool totes for families to check out and enhanced existing preschool story times with parent interaction activities focused on preschool skills.

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Children served
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Families served
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Library cards issued

Best Practices:

  1. Kindergarten Readiness Kits
  2. Take-home kits (teaching activities modeled by librarian)

Biggest Success:

  1. Getting parents to come in to the library and apply for a library card.
  2. Kindergarten Readiness Kits that let parents know what they should be working on with their children.  I heard the frustrations of parents wanting to help their children succeed in kindergarten but not knowing what was expected or how to teach them.  The parents and children have been thrilled by the Kindergarten Readiness Kits that the ICfL and the Hamer Library have provided.

Caveats:

Activities that lack parental instruction

Biggest Challenge:

Creating the interactive, child and parent friendly Kindergarten Readiness Kits. Using my experience as a certified teacher and certified librarian, I worked with the teachers in our school to create activities and provide experiences that would work on several levels of readiness. I wanted these kits to work progressively as the child and parent checked them out and worked with them repeatedly.

Evaluation:

Because of the small number of families in this community, personal notes and emails were collected to gather feedback about the kits. All were overwhelmingly positive and listed specific skills that were developed through the materials and activities. Here is one:

“I have absolutely loved the kindergarten readiness totes.  There have been different resources to practice numbers, shapes, letter patterns, and the alphabet… We have been practicing for the kindergarten round up and I feel this has really helped her prepare.  I wanted to share about a few of the resources.  First there is the boogie board alphabet.  It has the flash cards that can slide into the boogie boards and then you can see the letters to trace… The next one is an alphabet letter book that could be traced, we used the white boards included in the tote to independently write and see the letters.  The last activity was probably our favorite. It is a magnetic bead board that my daughter used the stylus to make the magnetic beads into the letter shape as she writes. Then as we push the beads down she gets to touch the beads as the letter shapes. I love this!! It is a game for upper and lower case letter practice. Thank you so much for your energy and time spent to benefit so many future students. It is setting these children up for success and a love of reading and writing!”

DOCUMENTS AND RESOURCES

Kindergarten Readiness Kits: Each of the 8 kits comes with:

  • list of “9 Kindergarten Readiness Skills Your Child Needs”, plus suggestions for activities
  • hardcover books
  • manipulative games and/or electronics
  • dry erase work sheet practice
  • file folder games

Kits come in large canvas bags with a list of educational goals, contents, and cost of the kit in the outside pocket.

CONTACT INFO

Laurel Dalling
Hamer Library Director

hamerlibrary@gmail.com

PROJECT GALLERY PICS

Kuna Library District

Awarded: $5,000

  • Ongoing

Partners: Kuna School District, Get Ready for School Kuna steering committee

Project:

The Kuna Library District used grant funds to enhance its “Kinder-Set-Go” program by hosting weekly kindergarten readiness programs for preschool children, many of whom were on the waiting list for Head Start, along with providing literacy kits to take home. They also provided 100 take home kits to four-year-old children in local daycares and preschools, and additional kits were available at the library for patrons to check out.

 

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Children served
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Families served
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Library cards issued

Best Practices:

  1. Kindergarten Readiness class held at the library: The single most important element was the take home materials that were given to the families so that they could continue learning in the home.  Our class was a parent/child model and worked well because we were able to provide education, ideas, tools and materials for parents to teach their own children. Because once a week is not enough to make a significant impact, it was crucial that the learning continue in the home.
  2. Daycare kits: Having a variety of hands on manipulatives that not only encouraged early literacy but also other readiness skills worked very well. We hoped that by making these items colorful and fun they would more likely be used. We also included instructions for use and extra ideas and resources to practice kindergarten readiness skills.
  3. Kindergarten Readiness Kits for checkout: Each kit is filled with games, activities and books that support the kindergarten readiness target and are available to anyone. We tried to include a variety of different items in each kit so that there would be something that worked well for each family.

Biggest Success:

In our Kinder-Set-Go class we personally witnessed the growth in both the children and their parents as they became more confident in learning and teaching. We watched kids and parents form social connections as well. We have also been very pleased with how often the library kits are being checked out. We feel that this project has fulfilled a need in our community and people are responding very well to it.

Caveats:

  1. We had unrealistic expectations about attendance in our Kinder-Set-Go classes.  While we were happy with attendance overall, there were some families that either had to quit or did not attend as often as we like. That is one of the reasons why the take-home materials were so important. These families did use the materials in the home and we did see an increase in their screening scores.
  2. The biggest pitfall we found with the daycare kits was receiving feedback. We tried various different incentives to bring recipients into the library including a free book and prizes; however only a few responded.  We would like to ask a little more help from the daycares and preschools in the future to communicate with and remind the parents to come to the library.
  3. Library kits: We learned that we needed to limit the number of small pieces that were in the kits because inevitably the kits came back to the library missing pieces. We ended up going through the kits and taking out unnecessary parts and holding them to the side to replace pieces when the kits came back incomplete. This way we did not have to charge the patron every time something small went missing.

Biggest Challenge:

Like almost anything that we do with programs and outreach, we struggle to reach the people who need our services the most.

Evaluation:

Kinder-Set-Go Get Ready to Read Screening Tool:
We administered the first screener in October before our classes began. We were able to administer the screener again in May at the completion of Kinder-Set-Go to 17 of the original 20 families. In October those 17 children achieved a collective score of 64%. In May those same 17 children achieved a score of 82% which was an 18% increase from the first of the year.

Additional evaluation tools:
Daycare/Preschool Kits: Parent Surveys, Coupon for Free Book when Visiting the Library
Library Kits: Parent Surveys, Circulation Statistics

DOCUMENTS AND RESOURCES

CONTACT INFO

Glenna Rasmussen
Programs Specialist

programs1@kunalibrary.org

PROJECT GALLERY PICS

Meridian Library District

Main Branch, Meridian

Awarded: $10,000

  • Ongoing

Partners: YMCA, Hillsdale Elementary (West Ada School District), Boys and Girls Club

Project Summary:

The Meridian Library District used grant funds to enhance its “Kindergarten All Stars” program at its Tiny Library location. Each week children focused on practicing skills necessary for kindergarten, such as using scissors, holding pencils and letter recognition. The funding provided training for an additional 120 families. The library also created kindergarten readiness kits to help families prepare for starting school.

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Children served
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Families served
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Library cards issued

Best Practices:

  1. Kindergarten Readiness Classes (without universal affordable PreK access in Idaho, this is a huge need)
  2. Kindergarten Readiness Kits
  3. Book/library card mailing. We’ve had great success with anything we do that involves sending mail to four-year-olds. They LOVE getting mail and we always include pre-addressed stamped envelopes for parents to return an evaluation.

Biggest Success:

Growth in several skill areas as a result of Kindergarten Readiness classes.

Caveats:

  1. Specialized classes. We did both a bilingual and an ‘all abilities’ class…We probably could just adapt our curriculum, as needed, when we have students with differing language skills or abilities.
  2. Three-year-olds in class… Three-year-olds have a hard time keeping up and can slow the class down.
  3. Needed to incentivize attending sessions all the way through for the classes, because by week 9 people would drop off.

Biggest Challenge:

Staffing: Made it work by hiring a temporary staff person to do workshops.

Evaluation:

Pre- and post-class assessment. (Tip: Don’t rely solely on parent responses to what they think their children know and can do.) Detailed pre/post results available (literacy skills, social/emotional skills, math/science skills, language skills, fine motor skills.

DOCUMENTS AND RESOURCES

CONTACT INFO

Megan Egbert
District Programs Manager

megan@mld.org

PROJECT GALLERY PICS