Children who have not participated in a formal early-learning setting typically start kindergarten behind their peers. To close that gap, the Providence Community Library (PCL) is teaming up with Ready to Learn Providence in a two-year project called Ready for K!
A federal grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, announced on September 25 by Sen. Jack Reed, coupled with a match from PCL, will fund the initiative.
Ready for K! will give 400 children the first formalized early literacy training of their young lives. Twice monthly from March to August these children will attend programs at PCL neighborhood libraries with a parent or principal caregiver and participate in a range of school readiness activities. Caregivers will also receive individual and group guidance on play-based activities they can do at home to further strengthen the skills their children need for kindergarten.
Among those home activities are literacy kits, all available in English and Spanish, that families will be able to borrow. These kits include high-quality children’s books and related games and activities. Simple checklists in each kit provide families with additional information about learning goals for their young children.
Four of PCL’s nine neighborhood libraries will host the program. The children’s specialist/librarian, assisted by members of Ready to Learn’s AmeriCorps program and Rhode Island Family Literacy Initiative, will lead the semi-monthly programs.
As part of this project, Ready to Learn is providing professional development to PCL staff on relevant topics, such as the Rhode Island Early Learning and Development Standards, early literacy skills, dual language learners, family engagement and cultural competence. In addition to this formal training, Ready to Learn will provide on-site support at the libraries.
PCL and Ready to Learn will recruit participating families each January and February when the Providence Public School Department (PPSD) registers children for the upcoming school year. During this phase, the project coordinator and support staff will be stationed daily at the PPSD Registration Office, creating a child-friendly environment that encourages learning and engagement. Project staff will issue PCL library cards, offer literacy activities for the waiting children, distribute a reading list that aligns with PPSD’s kindergarten curriculum, and determine which registering students and families qualify for Ready for K!
One hundred and sixty children will participate the first year and 240 the second year. Each year’s program will culminate in meetings with kindergarten teachers and field trips to the classrooms.
Michelle Novello, PCL’s program coordinator, and Bethany Carpenter, Ready to Learn’s professional development coordinator, designed the program. Michelle and Amy Greer, PCL’s youth services coordinator, co-authored the grant.
Top photo: (L-r) Michelle Novello, Bethany Carpenter, Amy Greer and Francisca Navedo.
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