Do you have a pre-kindergartner at home? The Fargo Public Schools is one of four school districts in southeast North Dakota offering “Gearing Up for Kindergarten,” a program funded by United Way of Cass-Clay, the North Dakota Legislature, and by participating schools through their federal Title I funds. It is a partnership by those districts with the NDSU Extension Service and the South East Education Cooperative (SEEC).
Gearing Up focuses on child development, parent involvement, and school readiness. The program, which is being offered at five sites this year in the District, includes 5-8 sessions in the fall, and 5-8 sessions in the winter/spring. The sessions are typically 90 minutes in length, held on weeknights. They cover such topics as:
- Raising a reader
- Early literacy and math
- Importance of sleep
- School readiness & learning styles
- Motor skills
- Brain development
Parents and children attend the sessions together, which are conducted by highly-qualified teachers from the Fargo Public Schools and other districts. Onsite childcare is available for siblings of those enrolled in the program.
According to a summary on pre-k research by the Center for Public Education, strong evidence shows that young children who participate in high-quality pre-k programs enter school more ready to learn than their peers. This ultimately can affect the benchmark third-grade year, in which learning-to-read becomes reading-to-learn for most students.
Gearing Up will be offered at Madison, McKinley, Jefferson, Kennedy and Lincoln Elementary schools. The program is open to any student either 4 years old, or on target to start kindergarten the following year. While registration is open in terms of street address, parents are encouraged to register their child at the site where he or she will be attending kindergarten, if possible.
NDSU’s Extension Service, which began implementing Gearing Up at sites across North Dakota in 2006, maintains an extensive website on the program. The site includes a short video on Gearing Up, information for educators and parents, participant feedback, and research findings.
(Image courtesy NDSU Extension Service)