Preparing Children for School and BeyondCarmen A. Donaldson, M.Ed., GSRP Early Childhood Specialist, The Children’s Center Head Start Academy
The Children’s Center’s Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) prepares children for kindergarten and beyond. The GSRP is funded by the state of Michigan and is designed to improve school readiness for children. The Children’s Center has taken this preparation a step further and combined GSRP with our already successful Head Start Academy to create an all-day program for 4-year-olds preparing to enroll in kindergarten. The Children’s Center’s GSRP began in September 2013 with two classrooms of 16 children each, with plans to add two more classrooms in 2014.
Small Classes and Personalized Learning
The program provides an 8-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio, allowing for more individualized instruction throughout the day. Teachers in the program are required to have a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education while classroom assistants have an associate’s degree or specialized training to work with early learners. The program follows the HighScope Curriculum, a research-based curriculum designed to create self-reliance and initiative in students. Students work daily on building skills in math, literacy, nutrition, science, health and hygiene and dental health. The program prepares students for school through consistency and daily routine.
Parents Are Pleased
According to Carmen Donaldson, an early childhood specialist with The Children’s Center, parents have been very pleased with the program and the progress they have seen in their children. One tangible example is when children begin to write letters and eventually are able to write their name. Parents love the extended learning and practice of a full-day program and the small classes that allow for more personalized learning. Children are learning important social skills necessary to succeed in school.
Special Needs Identified
Another plus of GSRP is that students with special learning needs can be identified before entering kindergarten. This allows The Children’s Center’s teachers to prepare an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that will tailor instruction to meet the specific learning needs of the child. This IEP will already be in place and be able to follow the student as they enter kindergarten –giving them an important advantage to succeeding in the classroom.
Expanding the Great Start Readiness Program
The Children’s Center is planning to expand the program, providing services to 64 children in 2014. The main requirement for participating in the program is the child must be eligible to enroll in kindergarten the following school year.