Huntingburg – Southwest Dubois County School Corporation and A Kid’s Place, Color My World, and HUMmingbird Day Care Ministry were collectively announced as a recipient of a statewide grant opportunity for communities interested in strengthening kindergarten transition programs and practices. The Strong Start Community initiative, funded by Indiana’s Preschool Development Grant and powered by Early Learning Indiana, supports the creation of locally-driven plans to ensure more Hoosier children move effectively into the kindergarten classroom, setting the stage for success in their first year of elementary school and beyond.
A smooth transition into kindergarten creates a foundation for children to build upon throughout the rest of their education journey. Without the right supports, children struggle to manage new expectations and the uncertainty of a new environment. Intentional programs that encourage family engagement and strengthen the connection between pre-K and K-12 are linked to academic gains, with the greatest gains made by children who experience social and economic risks.
Huntingburg was one of 15 Indiana communities awarded $25,000 through the Strong Start Community Grant. As a grant recipient, Southwest Dubois County School Corporation and A Kid’s Place, Color My World, and HUMmingbird Day Care Ministry have committed to developing and implementing kindergarten transition plans using specific criteria. That criteria, informed by national best practices and local innovation identified through the Strong Start for Kindergarten Prize competition, includes:
- Key stakeholder representation and public and private partnerships forged to support community participation
- Joint participation by early childhood education and K-12 stakeholders
- Engagement of early learning and kindergarten teachers through exposure opportunities and joint professional development
- Activities that engage families in the kindergarten transition planning process
- Supports for at-risk or vulnerable populations with a specific outcome goal
- Data use to set current level of kindergarten readiness and establish plan goals
“An increasing body of evidence suggests that effective kindergarten transitions can reduce academic fadeout, improve outcomes, encourage family involvement and allow children to navigate a significant period of adjustment,” said Early Learning Indiana CEO and President Maureen Weber. “By bringing all of the right stakeholders to the table and creating plans that leverage high-impact practices, communities can signal a genuine commitment to giving Hoosier children the best start possible in their elementary education journey, paving the way for future success.”
Indiana’s Preschool Development Grant, awarded to Indiana FSSA’s Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning in January 2019, supports a formal evaluation of the state’s birth-to-5 early childhood education programs and strategic planning to strengthen them. The Strong Start Community Grant builds upon these efforts.
For more information on the Strong Start Community Grant, visit solutions.earlylearningin.org/strong-start-community-grant.