Child care centers partnering with school districts on early development

By FAITH HUFFMAN | News-Telegram News Editor

Apr. 22, 2007 - With the amount of information Texas school students are required to learn increasing each year, educators are always looking for innovative ideas.

Staff Photo by Angela Pitts

Keyara Berry and Brenden Lynn look at a book in the Kids Central 4-year-old class taught by Terri West.

Preparing students for kindergarten through early education programs is one way to achieve that. The Sulphur Springs, Como-Pickton, Cumby and Saltillo school districts, Cumby Kids and Miss Mona's Playhouse in Sulphur Springs work together, sharing their training, curriculum and transition information to achieve that goal.

Thanks to a grant, Sulphur Springs implemented the Texas Early Education Model, which provides 130 hours of training and mentoring for teachers of early childhood development. 

Kids Central Child Care Center, administered by Central Baptist Church, was also recently selected as a pilot site for school readiness certification, a program that enables the state to certify child care centers that meet state standards and use a research-based curriculum, according to Nina Williams with Region VIII Education Service Center.

Kids Central offers a structured preschool program designed to help prepare its students for kindergarten. The curriculum includes teaching students a new letter each week in addition to arts and crafts activities. The idea is to prepare the 22 students in the 4-year-old program for kindergarten and elementary, whether at a public or private school. The 16 students currently enrolled in kindergarten at Kids Central are "all reading and doing really well," according to Penny Gautier, director. 

Kids Central was asked to be a model school because it epitomizes the goal behind the school readiness integration program partnership, or SRI — to figure out ways to give more prekindergarten students a leg up so they don't start kindergarten lagging behind their peers. 

"Research confirms the value of early education and its positive impact on future academic success. Further, students who receive a quality, research-based education receive far-reaching benefits," Phyllis Roundtree with Region VIII ESC noted.

Some of those benefits include higher math and reading test scores; decreased need for remedial education; and reduced likelihood of getting in trouble with the law in the future, and of repeating a grade or dropping out of school.

By partnering with school district, child care facilities can become eligible to receive prekindergarten funding from school districts. They also are able to offer research-based curriculum taught by certified preschool instructors to 3- and 4-year-olds which better prepares them to enter kindergarten and other regular school program. Kids Central is helping set the school readiness certification model.

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