Note: this page is information about a past program.
High quality early education is an essential investment in our children, families, and community. The Chatham Partnership for Children, in collaboration with the Chatham Schools, is implementing the Ready Schools Initiative to integrate preschool education with public school improvement efforts, so that early education includes ages 3 through 8 as a continuum of learning. Chatham Ready Schools promotes a community-wide understanding that high quality education encourages children’s academic, social, and emotional growth within a developmentally-appropriate framework
What Is A Ready School?
According to the NC Board of Education “a Ready School provides an inviting atmosphere, values and respects all children and their families, and is a place where children succeed. A Ready School is committed to high quality in all domains of learning and teaching and has deep connections with parents and its community. A Ready School prepares children for success in work and life in the 21st century.” This represents a shift in thinking from “Ready Kids” to Ready Schools”. Ready Schools are characterized by 8 dimensions:
- Commitment to every child’s success in school
- A welcoming environment focused on children
- Effective leadership
- Connections between preschool and kindergarten, and across primary grades
- Meaningful cultural and linguistic connections to children and families that value diverse backgrounds
- Partnerships with families and communities
- Using formal and informal assessments to improve achievement
- Quality assurance using a written improvement plan.
Why Do We Need Ready Schools?
Children are born learning, and the early years (0-8) are critical for success. This is when a child’s brain develops the most, establishing the foundation for all future learning. Research indicates that children learn best in schools that support academic excellence, connect with child care providers, and encourage partnerships among staff, families, and the community.
At least half of the educational achievement gap between poor and non-poor children already exists at kindergarten entry. The larger the gap at school entry, the harder it is to close. This gap not only leads to a higher risk of struggling in school, but also greater risk for negative life outcomes, such as dropping out of school, teen pregnancy, crime, and poverty. In contrast, early academic and social success influences children’s later positive school experiences. Consequently, children benefit from high quality child care and smooth transitions to kindergarten. Ready Schools helps bridge the child’s preschool and elementary experiences.
What Does Chatham Ready Schools Do?
The Chatham Ready Schools Initiative has the following 3 program activities:
Community Education about Ready Schools
Ready Schools works to educate preschool parents, early childhood professionals, school personnel, and the general community about how to help children get ready for school and how to help schools get ready for children. This involves facilitating the Ready School Steering Committee and organizing a professional development workshop for early childhood and kindergarten teachers.
Ready Schools Assessment
In 2010, Ready Schools Teams at two elementary schools will conduct a standardized Ready School Assessment on the strength of that school’s readiness. Each Ready School Team represents a variety of perspectives, including teachers, parents, school administrators, and child care providers. Once the completed Ready School Assessment has been presented, the wider school community will identify strategies to help create a Ready School.
Children who experience smooth transitions to school are more likely to be emotionally prepared for school, more confident in the classroom, and more successful academically. Transition to kindergarten should be envisioned as a process that starts in preschool and continues through the early months of kindergarten. It is the shared responsibility of parents, child care providers, and schools. Ready Schools improves kindergarten transitions for preschoolers and their families by working with child care centers and elementary schools to create opportunities to learn more about kindergarten through newsletters, resources, video screenings, school visits, and a community event.