The Santa Monica Cradle to Career Initiative (SMC2C) launched the community’s first Kindergarten Readiness Campaign in February, reaching more than 250 families with children aged four to five years at SMMUSD School Round Up events and at various Community Corporation of Santa Monica housing locations.
The Building Blocks for Kindergarten campaign aims to raise community awareness about the importance of early childhood development after data in the SMC2C Youth Wellbeing Report cards consistently revealed that only one-third of Santa Monica kindergarteners enter school at a level that is considered “very ready.”
Supported by the Child Care and Early Education Task Force and spearheaded by the City of Santa Monica, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD), Connections for Children, and various child care and early education providers, the Building Blocks for Kindergarten campaign targets three main audiences: Families, Early Education Providers, and SMMUSD Transitional Kindergarten and Kindergarten teachers.
The campaign consists of the Building Blocks for Kindergarten handbook, a portfolio for parents to share with kindergarten teachers, new web content, an e-newsletter, and presentations to parents at various community events.
The Santa Monica Public Library will support the campaign beginning in March by incorporating kindergarten readiness materials and information at weekly library story time programs.
Concurrently, 15 child care and early education providers have pledged to integrate materials and information into their teaching curriculums, and will address kindergarten readiness with families with age-appropriate children during Spring 2015 parent-teacher conferencing. SMMUSD will also incorporate a new parent-teacher discussion document for all Fall 2015 entering kindergarten families (approximately 600 students).
“When parents and caregivers nurture children’s academic, social and emotional skills at home, those children are better prepared for success in kindergarten and for a path of life-long learning and achievement,” said Sandra Lyons, Superintendent of SMMUSD.
To support this collective model of working together to address community needs, a Kindergarten Readiness Summit will take place between early childhood providers and SMMUSD Transitional Kindergarten and Kindergarten teachers in late April at the RAND Conference on Early Childhood.
“This campaign is a prime example of what the Santa Monica Cradle to Career Initiative is about. The City, SMMUSD and key partners coming together to mobilize our community assets and know-how to make a deep and real change for families with young children,” said Julie Rusk, the City of Santa Monica’s Community and Cultural Services Assistant Director. “We gathered data, analyzed it, and strategized on an approach and here’s the result: The Building Blocks for Kindergarten campaign.”
Over the next few months, the Building Blocks for Kindergarten campaign will continue to expand its efforts to reach families at community events including Santa Monica Public Library’s Summer Reading Program and local community clinics with pediatric services.
Information may also be found online at www.santamonicayouth.net/kindergarten.