KUNA — Kuna School District is part of a collaborative effort, Get Ready to Learn Kuna, to bring high-quality preschool to Kuna.
“What we’re seeing is when the providers or teachers in preschool have a little bit of training in literacy skills, and now in math skills, that those kids are able to meet those kindergarten readiness skills," said special education director Ludee Vermaas.
Statewide, 43% of incoming kindergartners started school reading-ready this fall, which is a 2% decrease from last year. The collaborative effort is improving those averages in Kuna.
For the 2018-2019 school year, they’ve seen students enrolled in their preschools meet 67% kindergarten reading readiness, compared to 42% for kids not enrolled. For this school year, they’ve seen 80% readiness for kids in the collaborative.
“Probably the most effective thing we’ve done is a couple of the teachers have volunteered to train preschool teachers," said community volunteer Ginny Greger.
This past year they received a grant from the Lee Pesky Learning Center, and taught preschool staff literacy coaching, which are practices like how to read to kids aloud, and various activities to improve early reading skills. This year they’re doing the same, but with pre-math skills coaching.
"Three times a year we pull preschool teachers to an evening training and we look at the scores of their kids and then we identify areas they could provide activities and meet those skills," said Vermaa, "and how to talk to parents that they could also reinforce those skills home so then we’re improving overall literacy for the kids," said Vermaas.
They also received a planning grant from Preschool the Idaho Way and they’re applying for an implementation grant to provide more access.
"Just getting maybe 10-12 more kids into preschool that cant afford preschool now," said Greger.
10-12 seats might not sound like a lot, but it’s just the starting point.
“This year we're going to start small because we want to make sure that those teachers in that program that are part of that expansion will continue to get access to high-quality professional development," said Vermaas.