“The research is pretty clear as far as students coming into pre-K and the various backgrounds they come from, students who come from poverty with a much smaller vocabulary set — about a third of the size of students coming to pre-K — ... and how quickly the brain functions and how students can adapt and catch up, so it’s very critical at this age to get students into school and get them up to speed and prepared for kindergarten and first grade,” state Superintendent John Barge previously told The Daily Tribune News.
While Bartow County closed the doors to its STARS Pre-K site in 2012, the county’s pre-K program remains active, with classrooms scattered throughout the system’s 12 elementary schools. The county’s elementary schools and pre-K classrooms host more than 14,000 students combined while Cartersville’s Kids and Co. Pre-K has 132 students.
Cartersville Kids and Co. Site Director Wesley Cupp said the program not only focuses on preparing students to begin kindergarten on grade level from an academic perspective, but from a social perspective as well.
“Our big push is to prepare them socially and emotionally with their development, but we also do other development in their fine motor skills, their physical development, in science, social studies, math, literacy — we touch all those domains in pre-K,” Cupp said. “We do have new standards this year — GELD — which stands for Georgia Early Learning Development standards, and those are supposed to have a direct correlation with the kindergarten state Common Core Standards. That, combined with all the other activities we do throughout the year, that’s how we’re preparing our students for kindergarten.”
He continued, “We’re doing a really good job with it; I’m really pleased with the outcomes each year.”
Cupp said each year he receives feedback from Cartersville Primary School on how former pre-K students perform.
“We want to make sure our kids are prepared, not just for kindergarten, but to be leaders in kindergarten and you will see that when you go over to the primary school, a lot of your kids that are really shining are the kids from our pre-K program,” Cupp said.
According to a press release from Voices for Georgia’s Children, a nonprofit child policy and advocacy organization that supports Pre-K Week, “Georgia’s commitment to universal Pre-Kindergarten for four-year-olds is an investment in early learning. During the years from birth to age eight, children are able to develop the awareness, language and skills that support their ability to read. By third grade they have learned to read and now they are reading to learn. Georgia’s Pre-K, funded by the Georgia Lottery, is an important contribution at the midpoint of this continuum.
“... A study in 2012 by the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill demonstrated that children in Georgia’s Pre-K exhibited significant growth during their pre-k year across all domains of learning, including language and literacy skills, math skills, general knowledge, and behavioral skills.”