COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina First Steps today announced the launch of the 2023 Countdown to Kindergarten initiative. With approximately 50,000 children expected to embark on their kindergarten journey this fall in South Carolina's public schools, this statewide effort helps to ensure that every child is ready for success from day one.
Countdown to Kindergarten promotes a positive and successful start to school by engaging children and families in programs and events throughout the summer. Since its inception in 2004, the initiative has been instrumental in facilitating smooth transitions into school while emphasizing the critical importance of kindergarten readiness. This year, South Carolina First Steps has partnered with 48 local organizations to offer Countdown to Kindergarten programs and events across the state.
"The transition to kindergarten is a pivotal time for young children and families," said Georgia Mjartan, executive director of South Carolina First Steps. "Countdown to Kindergarten celebrates our youngest learners while providing practical tools and resources that parents have told us they need.”
A recent survey of 2,727 parents and caregivers in South Carolina revealed that 75% of parents need help knowing what to do for their child to be ready for kindergarten. First Steps is responding by expanding the reach of this year’s initiative to support more children and families than ever before.
“We're thrilled to join families and partners across the state in making this year's celebration the biggest and most impactful yet,” added Director Mjartan.
This year's Countdown to Kindergarten initiative includes a variety of activities and resources designed to foster school readiness, including:
Communities throughout the state will host free celebrations and engaging learning opportunities for rising kindergartners and their families. These events will take place at various locations, including children's museums, libraries, parks, schools, and community centers. Event details can be found at countdownsc.org/find-a-celebration.
SC First Steps works hand in hand with local First Steps partnerships and schools to provide instruction and support for children who may face academic challenges. The program facilitates meaningful connections between 4K and 5K teachers and their incoming students and families throughout the summer, with five sessions of activities that support and model school expectations and a final visit to tour the kindergarten classroom. Specialized support is available for dual-language learners and children with disabilities.
The #COUNTDOWNSC social media campaign directs families and communities to countdownsc.org, where they can find useful information to help prepare children for kindergarten. The website features helpful tips, resources, a school directory, and a calendar showcasing local Countdown to Kindergarten events.
2023 Countdown to Kindergarten community partners include:
Aiken County First Steps
Allendale-Fairfax Elementary School (Allendale County)
Anderson County First Steps
Bamberg County School District
Barnwell County First Steps
Black River United Way (Georgetown County)
Calhoun County First Steps
Charleston County First Steps
Cherokee County First Steps
Chester County First Steps
Clarendon County First Steps
Colleton County First Steps
Darlington County First Steps
Dorchester County First Steps
EdVenture Children's Museum (Columbia, Myrtle Beach, Hartsville)
Fairfield County First Steps
Florence County First Steps
Greenville County First Steps
Horry County First Steps
J'Dae Early Learning Academy (Dillon County)
Kershaw County First Steps
Kershaw County School District
Lancaster County First Steps
Lancaster County School District
Lee County First Steps
Tomorrow's Leaders (Lee County)
Lexington County First Steps
Lexington County School District One
Marion County First Steps
McCormick County First Steps
Newberry County First Steps
Newberry County Library
Oakbrook Elementary School (Dorchester County)
Oconee County First Steps
Orangeburg County First Steps
PASOs, Richland County
Pickens County First Steps
Richland County First Steps
Richland School District Two’s Center for Child Development
South Carolina Educational Television
Spartanburg County First Steps
St. Joseph Catholic School (Anderson County)
The Children's Museum of the Upstate - Spartanburg
Union County First Steps
Upstate Family Resource Center (Spartanburg County)
Williamsburg County First Steps
York County First Steps
For more information about the Countdown to Kindergarten initiative and to access event information and resources, visit countdownsc.org.