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Smart Start Rowan provides kindergarten kits

By Susan Shinn Turner

Smart Start Rowan

When you’re 5 years old, going to kindergarten is a very big deal.

If you’re the parent of a 5-year-old, the prospect of your child starting his or her academic career is also a big deal.

That’s why Smart Start Rowan and Rowan-Salisbury Schools have partnered to distribute kindergarten readiness kits to the 1,400 children in Rowan County who will start school this fall.

The kits include learning activities and ideas and hands-on games that families can use over the summer that focus on, math, reading and writing skills, said Kelly Street, Rowan-Salisbury Schools’ director of early learning.

Smart Start Rowan received enough funding to provide kits to prekindergarten students, and the system also provides a summer learning kit. Street and Amy Brown, Smart Start Rowan’s executive director, discussed the kits and decided to provide the same kit for all the county’s 5-year-olds to send a consistent message for all families.

“It’s so important that all families of rising Rowan County kindergartners receive the same message and understand the same expectations,” Brown said. “Kelly and I believe that partnering to provide the same kindergarten readiness kit to all children is a great way to help make that happen. We are thrilled about this collaboration, and we hope to continue it in the years to come.”

The kits include a number of items designed for rising kindergarteners and their families to use over the summer.

The kits were purchased with Title I, elementary education, and Smart Start Rowan funds, Street said. They will be distributed to students at the end of the school year or during kindergarten registration at the county’s elementary schools.

Street was on hand at China Grove Elementary School for its kindergarten registration the morning of May 9. Kindergarten teachers led youngsters and their families on a tour of the school in hopes of making them feel more comfortable when they return this fall, said Principal Lea Ann Thomas.

“We want to be family-friendly, and we want families to see what our school is all about,” she said. “We don’t want them to be trapped in the media center filling out forms. We’re taking our kindergarten families all over the school.”

Thomas said she expects about 100 kindergartners to enroll by fall. With a pre-K classroom, total student enrollment is about 600, she said. There are five kindergarten classes with 20 students per class, with an assistant in each classroom during the morning.

“We want kids and parents to start school on the right foot,” Thomas said. “We’re going to be a partner with them in their child’s education. Kindergartners love for parents to come to school. We want to be a part of their children’s lives for the six years they are here.”

By having online registration, Street said, the staff can concentrate on giving tours and spending more one-on-one time with families. “Families can also see the culture of the school during the day.”

Jaymi Hollingsworth registered her son, Bobby Crook, for kindergarten. Her younger daughter, Allison, is a fifth-grader at the school, while her older daughter, Diana, is a sixth-grader at China Grove Middle School.

“He’ll love it,” his mom said confidently. “His sister does. He didn’t do a pre-k program because we just moved here in February.”

After a school tour, Amber French asked her daughter, Raelynn Eudy, “Do you feel a little better now that you’ve seen the whole school?”

“A little,” was her daughter’s answer.

Starting kindergarten was all new for Raelynn and for her mom, French said, although she was a student here, as are other family members.

The partnership with the school system is just one of many that Smart Start Rowan has within the community including Healthy Beginnings, health care for uninsured or underinsured pregnant women through the health department; Reach Out & Read, a partnership with local physicians to provide free books; behavioral support programs; and the Triple P Positive Parenting Program.

In addition, it offers services for families at its office at 1329 S. Jake Alexander Blvd., including Child Care Resource and Referral, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, an Early Learning Playroom, Kaleidoscope Play & Learn free weekly playgroups, and information on the N.C. Pre-K program.

For more information about Smart Start Rowan, call 704-630-9085 or visit rowan-smartstart.org.

Smart Start Rowan is a United Way member agency.

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