More than half of SC’s preschool students aren’t ready for kindergarten

Updated: Oct. 28, 2020 at 7:30 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Jameka Young said, when her son started kindergarten, he was ready.

She said he didn’t have a perfect score on his Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (KRA), but he scored fairly high.

“I took it upon myself to see what he was deficient at to close that achievement gap,” Young said.

Before he started kindergarten, she did everything she could to prepare him: pre-school programs, tutors, lessons at home. Young wanted to make sure her son could hit the ground running.

“What really helped a lot was we read to him every night. We checked for comprehension to see if he understood what we were reading or did he just like the sound of our voice,” she said.

The reality is, most students in South Carolina aren’t ready for kindergarten. According to KRA data from the South Carolina Department of Education, a little less than 40% of students can handle the kindergarten curriculum when they start.

That’s why the Carolina Family Engagement Center at the University of South Carolina’s College of Education is taking a proactive approach. They work to get whoever is taking care of the child more involved in helping them learn.

“I think sometimes parents may not realize what an important impact they have on their child’s growth and development and success of that,” Project Director Karen Utter said. “Even if they do know, they may not know all the things they can do to be effective and support that growth and development.”

Utter said parents are a child’s first teacher. Wednesday, they unveiled some resources they believe will help caretakers. They have released six new booklets called “Ready, Set - Kindergarten!”. The booklets focus on six areas of growth and experience that research shows help a child progress and develop.

You can download them by clicking or tapping here.

“It’s really about the process of learning and solving problems,” Utter said. “All of those things are going to continue to support a child as they acquire knowledge and information as they got through school.”

According to Utter, the guides are available for download online, but they will also be distributing these at schools, doctor’s offices, local barbershops, and about everywhere in the hopes of reaching as many families as possible.

Young said getting your child ready for kindergarten is a lot of work, but you can’t stop there, especially since the pandemic has changed education.

According to the S.C. Department of Education, there were more than 56,000 public school students enrolled in kindergarten last year in the state.

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