In order to have a successful educational career, children need to have a good start. Research proves that children who have a quality transition to Kindergarten are less likely to fail or drop out. They are also more likely to have more parent involvement and a better attitude towards their education. The result? Better grades, a better experience, and a better future. Unfortunately, making the transition is often difficult for children and parents alike. Cue Ready Freddy, an organization who hopes to help.
Ready Freddy’s goal is simple—to increase on-time enrollment while giving teachers, parents, and children the tools for a positive transition to formal schooling. Ready Freddy accomplishes this goal in a variety of ways, even going as far as to canvas neighborhoods with their mascot Freddy the frog. The organization’s latest effort is an interactive online book entitled Ready Freddy Goes to School.
The book follows Freddy as he prepares for kindergarten and attends his first day of class. Through reading the book, children learn what they can look forward to on their first day. The more the children know what to expect, the less stress they feel over starting this new chapter in their lives. The book also serves as a valuable resource to parents. Interactive features and linked games provide opportunities for parents to practice skills like learning shapes, colors, and routines with their children.
So far, the book has been a great success. Colleen Young, Projects Manager for the University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development Service Demonstration Division, explains parent and student reactions to the book: “The children and families love the book. They appreciate it as an interesting and fun resource for preparing for Kindergarten and are able to identify with Freddy’s experience. Families have also picked up some tips for things they should be doing like visiting the school to meet their Kindergarten teacher and see their classroom before school starts. Children enjoy the songs and all of the little fun things that you can make Freddy do (helping Freddy brush his teeth was a favorite). During demonstrations, many of them want to view the book multiple times and all are excited about their first day of school afterwards.”
Ready Freddy’s efforts have already had a big impact on the region. Before the organization’s intervention in 2006, 75% of eligible children were not enrolled in kindergarten on time. As of August 2011, 65% of Weil and 56% of Miller (two of Ready Freddy’s focus schools in the Hill District) families are already enrolled for this fall. Other non-Ready Freddy schools currently have as low as 15-20% enrollment.
The addition of Ready Freddy’s online book allows the organization to reach out to a much wider audience. Colleen Young explains the benefits: “The online book allows anyone starting kindergarten to easily access the book. We have even downloaded the book onto laptops to ensure that internet connectivity was not an issue in sharing it with childcare centers that may not have computers, at public functions, and in the home. Not only has it allowed us to connect to more children and parents, but it has also been a wonderful resource to connect us with other childcares and providers with whom we formerly did not have a relationship.”
Spark supports Ready Freddy’s continued efforts to improve the education of children both in Pittsburgh and beyond the city’s limits. Hop over to http://www.readyfreddy.org/ to read Ready Freddy Goes to School with your child today!