by Lindsay W. Brown
May 18, 2010
Crayons? Check. Pencils? Check. Paper? Check. It takes more than school supplies to prepare a young child for success in school. Did you know that patterns of learning in the preschool years are closely linked to later achievement? Children who develop more skills in the preschool years perform better in the primary grades. The development of early skills is especially important in the area of literacy. Literacy skills, including reading, writing, speaking and listening, are foundational to every child’s success in school and success in life. Without reading and writing skills, learning is difficult if not impossible.
Families, schools and communities play critical roles in helping young children prepare for success in school. We are fortunate to live in DeKalb County where parents, schools, preschools and other community program providers already do a good job. DeKalb County takes great pride in creating experiences in which children can thrive and develop to their full potentials.
However, not all of the county’s children arrive at school ready to learn. Learning Link’s early childhood action team has set a five-year vision of “all children entering school ready to learn”. They’re encouraging community members countywide to take that good job DeKalb County is already doing and make it even better so that every child has the chance to succeed as a reader and writer before leaving third grade.
Launched in 2009, Learning Link connects community leaders with people who provide educational programs for children and adults of all ages, aligning the valuable educational programs that are already in place. This countywide effort is all aimed toward the shared vision – working together through continuous learning to improve the quality of life for all.
Studies have proven that children who enter school with the recognized “readiness” skills are those who are reading at grade level by third grade. And students reading at grade level at third grade are those with the best chance of graduating from high school
and succeeding throughout life. It’s been proven that children not reading at grade level by third grade are at very high risk for dropping out of school, teen pregnancy and juvenile crime.
For the next eleven weeks, Learning Link’s early childhood team, comprised of DeKalb County kindergarten teachers, children’s librarians, educational program providers, parents and grandparents, will share some of the most basic skills, along with how a parent or other caregiver can work with a child to impart that skill. Community resources for helping you with your efforts will also be shared. While DeKalb County is rich with no- and low-cost activities and programs to support children’s learning, it always helps to know where to look.
It’s our hope that people reading this column will glean some ideas from the decades of experience represented by Learning Link’s early childhood team. Please join us in helping make a difference in preparing children for learning and for life. As more children become proficient young readers and writers early in their schooling, we help the children, their children and the generations to come. For more information about Learning Link, go to www.dekalblearninglink.org or call Judy Sorg at the DeKalb County Community Foundation, 260-925-0311.