The Southern Illinois University Edwardsville East St. Louis Center is able to prepare more children for kindergarten because of the continued support of The Boeing Company.
Boeing recently gave the ESLC a Kindergarten Readiness grant, which is the company’s second award to the center. The five-week program will begin in summer 2018.
“We are thrilled that Boeing is continuing to invest in this important community initiative,” said ESLC Executive Director Jesse Dixon. “We have found tremendous success in making sure our five weeks with these children prepares them emotionally, socially and academically for their first day of kindergarten.”
Dixon added that the ESLC also has a proven record of accomplishment with its SIUE Head Start/Early Head Start quality programming and their ongoing success in preparing preschoolers for kindergarten.
The Kindergarten Readiness program targets incoming kindergarteners who are at risk of falling behind their kindergarten classmates, according to Johanna Wharton, director of Workforce Development and Strategic Partnerships at ESLC.
“At risk is defined as little or no prior pre-K experience and/or low assessment scores within their outgoing pre-K program,” Wharton said.
She defined some of the program objectives as follows:
• Close the kindergarten readiness skills gap between incoming kindergarten students who are ready to excel in kindergarten and those who are not with the following focus areas:
• Pre-literacy skills, including sounds of speech, familiarity with print, books and the purpose of texts
• Basic skills, such as recognition of numbers, letters and colors
• Social skills that involve sharing and listening
• School behaviors, such as lining up, using the restroom and eating meals
• Get students excited about learning and school through highly-engaging, hands-on academic and enrichment activities including:
• Interdisciplinary project-based STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) units
• Field trips to local attractions
• Engage parents and families to have a direct relationship with their students’ educational success
• Create opportunities to engage families in their child’s learning by sending home materials, hosting events and recruiting parent volunteers.
The ESLC will utilize key partnerships for the success of the program that include the East St. Louis District 189, SIUE Head Start/Early Head Start, SIUE East St. Louis Center for the Performing Arts, East St. Louis Early Learning Partnership/All Our Kids Network and the Lume Institute.
“We are excited about the opportunity to continue to build on the great work being done in this camp around executive functioning skills,” said Wharton. “Last summer 66 percent of youth who completed the camp increased or maintained their executive functioning skills. These skills include memory, self-control and mental flexibility, and they help children learn and function well in the classroom today and in the board room later in life.”