In a joint effort to help children be ready for kindergarten, the United Way of Kosciusko County and Warsaw Community Schools piloted a 17-day summer program to prepare kids with no preschool experience for the classroom. Preparation included teaching of basic academic skills to improve the chances children will remain on track through their school career resulting in higher graduation rates.
Forty-two participants of the Kindergarten Countdown, funded by United Way, completed the program and were given pre and post tests to measure improvement in nine areas of learning and academic skills such as counting and color recognition. Increases in all nine categories were observed and recorded via the test scores.
In addition to the expected outcomes for the children who participated in this summer program, teachers also noted several unexpected outcomes including social skill acquisition. For example, children were able to walk through a cafeteria line and learn about healthy food choices. School personnel also identified children who may have more anxiety about transitioning from home to a school setting and, as a result of the countdown, have been able to meet those needs from the first day rather than waiting several weeks or even months into the school year.
“Warsaw Community School teachers, administration, parents, classroom volunteers were extremely pleased by the by the momentous gains accomplished through this program,” said David Hoffert, chief academic officer of Warsaw Community School Corporation. The classroom volunteers were from Warsaw Evangelical Presbyterian Church. Hoffert also reported, “The collaborative teamwork coupled with students and parents enabled this program to be a great success that we plan to build upon and continue forward.”
Patricia Coy, executive director of United Way of Kosciusko County, is excited about the potential of this program. “We have long known the importance of preparing children for early academic success and the positive correlation to high school graduation rates. This is one more way the United Way is working to improve educational outcomes in our community. I hope we are fortunate enough to see this program in every corporation in the county.”
For more information about Kindergarten Countdown, please contact United Way at 574-269-2592 or Warsaw Community Schools at 574-371-5098 and ask to speak with Deb Blatz or David Hoffert.