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PNC Foundation has awarded the Detroit Public Schools Foundation in excess of $1.2 million in grant funding to support more than 600 students in its Grow Up Great Program.

 

DPS Pre-Kindergarten: Investing early for a lifetime of educational benefits

There’s new evidence that children enrolled in pre-kindergarten programs do better in math and reading than those who stay at home with their parents or relatives according to the 2013 federal study, America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being. The study reinforces the importance of an early start. Are you in?

In one corner, students sit on large a colorful rug reviewing the months of the year. In another corner, students practice their letters using a word game at a bank of computers. At another station in the classroom, students are using large cardboard building blocks to learn shapes and the foundation concepts of math. Across the room, a group of students are paging through a book, learning their first words. Long gone are Preschool classrooms where children spent their days coloring, drawing and napping.

In any one of the 70 full-day Pre-Kindergarten classrooms across Detroit Public Schools, students’ days are filled with learning the foundations of math, science, reading, writing and social studies in a fun and engaging way. “Quality Pre-K programs help children learn to read before 3rd grade, which is a critical achievement.

We know that students who can read by 3rd grade will stay engaged in school and graduate at much higher rates,” said Karen Ridgeway, Superintendent of Academics for Detroit Public Schools. Pre-Kindergarten classes give children an opportunity to level the playing field with their peers by mitigating risk factors by the time they arrive in kindergarten, Ridgeway said.

This year, DPS is offering more Pre-Kindergarten than ever. Among the first initiatives to be implemented from the district’s 5-year strategic plan, Detroit Public Schools implemented a broad strategy to vastly increase preschool offerings for eligible students. The DPS Universal Pre-K Program adds 25 new early learning classrooms to 14 sites geographically spread across the city, including 12 classrooms in five new DPS Early Learning Neighborhood Centers.

In total, DPS will operate 215 Pre-K classrooms at 70 schools with a capacity for 3,530 young learners. The DPS Early Childhood Programs are comprised of three prekindergarten programs: the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP), Project Head Start and Title I. Students selected for the Great Start Readiness Program must have at least two risk factors including income guidelines.

The recruitment, eligibility and selection of prekindergarten children and their families for Early Childhood programs within the Detroit Public Schools is an ongoing process throughout the school year. In order to become eligible for Detroit Public Schools Prekindergarten Program, a child must be 4 years old by November 1st of the current school year. “Our students’ day is filled with exciting activities to assist them in learning about music, reading, writing, painting, how things work, how things are put together, how things live, and observing changes in many areas,” said Program Supervisor Dr. Ursula Kelley-Wash.

“The focus is on supporting the students socially, emotionally, physically, mentally and academically.” Students also have access to current technology and are able to utilize these materials during the day. Throughout the Early Learning programs, classroom teaching staff are supportive, nurturing, and highly-qualified early childhood professionals who use research-based High Scope curriculum, said Assistant Superintendent Wilma Taylor-Costen.

The curriculum, which is aligned with the National Early Childhood Standards and Michigan State Board of Education, Early Childhood Standards of Quality, emphasizes adult-child interaction, a carefully-designed learning environment, and a plan-do-review process that strengthens initiative and self-reliance in children and young people. Teachers and students are active partners in shaping the educational experience.

The driving force behind’s’ Pre-Kindergarten curriculum is to foster a love of learning and provide the necessary foundation for a successful educational career, Taylor-Costen said. To ensure that children are growing academically, on-going assessments are completed daily. The data is used to ensure the needs of all students are being met.

The Pre-K schools also have a variety of partnerships to benefits students. At Beard Early Learning Neighborhood Center in Southwest Detroit, partnerships with Wayne State University serve to enhance the school’s programming, and events such as Literacy Night and Snuggle up and Read create a welcoming atmosphere for Pre-Kindergarten children and their parents to launch a successful educational journey.

“The earlier we can instill early literacy, mathematics and a love for science, as well as developing social skills, we’re able to propel that students to new heights and new experiences,” said DPS parent Deirdre Young.

Editors’ Note: Registration is ongoing now for classes scheduled to start September 16. For enrollment questions, call: (313) 347-8923. There’s new evidence that children enrolled in pre-kindergarten programs do better in math and reading than those who stay at home with their parents or relatives according to the 2013 federal study, America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being. The study reinforces the importance of an early start. 

 

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