A stronger start: Countdown to Kindergarten

Do you remember your first day of kindergarten? Do you remember your child’s first day?

Most parents will tell you that starting kindergarten is one of the most memorable childhood milestones. It can also be one of the most stressful. Almost half of all children have some difficulty adjusting to a new school, with one in six experiencing serious problems. And the transition can be just as challenging for parents and teachers!

All children deserve a strong start in school. That’s why South Carolina First Steps offers school transition programs like Countdown to Kindergarten. A supported transition can make a big difference for families and kids, especially those at risk for early school failure.

Research has shown that the most impactful kindergarten transition programs thoughtfully and intentionally engage parents and caregivers as their child’s first and most important teacher. Countdown to Kindergarten does just that. Developed in 2003 by South Carolina First Steps, the program connects families of rising kindergartners with their future teachers during the summer before school entry. Teachers make five visits to the family’s home and host a final visit in the kindergarten classroom. Every family receives an at-home learning kit with educational resources and school supplies.

Since its inception, Countdown to Kindergarten has supported school transitions for more than 17,000 children across the state. In 2021, the program is poised to extend its reach even further. Thanks to funding from the federal Preschool Development Grant, Countdown to Kindergarten will be available to more eligible families, including expanded services for families in which English is a second language and children with special needs.

Countdown to Kindergarten programs are facilitated annually by local First Steps partnerships and schools throughout the state. All Countdown to Kindergarten teachers receive online training and support, flexible hours and caseload size, along with a stipend and travel reimbursement.

Learn more about Countdown to Kindergarten here. If you are a school administrator or teacher interested in partnering with us, contact Dr. Janice Kilburn, Director of the Countdown to Kindergarten program at South Carolina First Steps.

Countdown to Kindergarten is supported by the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five Initiative (PDG B-5), Grant Number 90TP0080-01-00, from the Office of Child Care, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Topics: School Transition, Parenting, Home Visiting, Local Partnerships

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