Studies over the past decade have shown that the early years — from birth to age 5 — form an indelible blueprint for a child’s long-term learning success. United Way seeks out initiatives that support our youngest learners, their families and their teachers to ensure that children are ready to learn as soon as they start kindergarten. Among those initiatives and partnerships are:
- Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library
- Shawnee County Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
- Junior Leader Readers
- Book-Rich Environments
- Pine Ridge Prep Preschool
Pre-literacy skills include more than a child’s ability to identify letters, numbers, or shapes. They include oral language and phonological and phonemic awareness, as well as knowledge of the alphabet and an understanding of common print concepts.
Starting kindergarten with the necessary early literacy skills gives children a foundation to be successful throughout their education.
- On average in Shawnee County, 55% of the children entering kindergarten do not have the necessary pre-literacy skills.
- In Topeka Public Schools, more than 63% of the children entering kindergarten lack basic pre-literacy skills necessary for success.
- Nearly 50% of children in schools located in the 66605 and 66607 zip codes need intensive intervention when they start kindergarten.
Children who lack critical pre-literacy skills will have a hard time catching up to their peers. Those who start behind often stay behind.
- For every 50 children who don’t learn to read in kindergarten, 44 will still be below grade-level in 3rd grade.
- Children with below-grade skills by 3rd grade are unlikely to graduate high school.