Early Childhood Program gathers input for readiness goals
The Thompson Early Childhood Program is getting ready – ready to prepare its preschoolers for kindergarten.
That means ready children, ready families, ready schools and ready community, Early Childhood (EC) Administrator Theresa Clements said. "As our tagline says: Readiness is more than the ABCs and it begins at birth."
EC, which is part of the Thompson School District, combines the federal Head Start, Colorado Preschool Program, special education and tuition-based participation, asked an audience of about 30 what it will take to create readiness goals for the future. The group composed of kindergarten teachers, preschool staffs, parents and community members met Oct. 15 in a session with the EC staff to begin the process.
The readiness framework for preschool children is a cornerstone of building expectations, programs, and actions in preparing students to be successful in kindergarten and beyond. The state is enacting readiness legislation that takes effect in 2013-2014 when school readiness plans and assessments will be initiated.
The EC program serves about 550 preschoolers in the district, working through federal, state and Larimer County to align their focus closely with state and district standards. "It will all be aligned from preschool on. It's all connected," Clements said.
She noted that readiness is about all aspects of a child's life. "School readiness is enhanced when schools, families and community service providers work collaboratively to ensure every student is ready," Clements said. Head Start says: "If children are ready, families are ready and schools are ready, the child can possess the skills knowledge and attributes necessary for success in school and later in life."
As she spoke to the group, Clements provided them with Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Framework. She said she wanted them to bring forward their thoughts and expectations. "We want to hear from you at a gut level," Clements told participants before they broke into smaller groups to address the five general Head Start framework components of language and literacy, approaches to learning, social and emotional development, physical development and health and cognition and general knowledge.
"What is it a child needs when they walk out the door of preschool so that they are successful when they reach kindergarten?" Clements asked. "We want to capture that." As people discussed specific goals under the headings, Clements said her staff was looking to pare down two to three major ideas within each area of what a child needs to be ready.
"That doesn't mean we won't work on all the others but we want to define the most important areas," she said. The challenge for us is that they need to be broad in the goal statement – what we want for all children."
After participants listed several goals, they then each identified their two to three priority goals in each area. "We will take the work from tonight to the EC staff and program councils to continue to identify the key goals and continue the process of redefining readiness goals," Clements said.
Head Start Program School Readiness Act passed in 2007 and was followed by the state enacting similar legislations. Larimer County followed suit with a county-wide effort to support school readiness. Clements the Larimer school districts – Thompson, Poudre and Park in Estes have worked closely address readiness issues. For more information visit the Integrated Eary Childhood page or call 970-613-5052.