COLUMBIA — Union County First Steps is working with the South Carolina Board of Education to promote awareness of a program designed to ensure children are ready for kindergarten.
In a statement released Thursday morning, South Carolina First Steps to School Readiness announced that it had unveiled the “Profile of the Ready Kindergartner” — the new description of school readiness for the State of South Carolina and the [I CAN] public awareness campaign to promote it statewide.
Designed in collaboration with the South Carolina Board of Education, the “Profile of the Ready Kindergartner” describes what families and caregivers, communities, and schools can do to help children arrive at kindergarten ready for success.
“Preparing the state’s young children for school is a responsibility we all share,” said Ken Wingate, Chairman of the South Carolina First Steps to School Readiness Board of Trustees. “The idea that we all have an important role to play is also the cornerstone of our new, public awareness campaign, [I CAN]. Helping our children succeed in kindergarten begins at birth and takes all of us working together.”
Catherine Childers, Executive Director of Union County First Steps, said that, like the [I CAN] campaign, First Steps also seeks to promote a collaborative, public-private effort to prepare children for kindergarten.
“The message of [I CAN] is the message of First Steps,” Childers said. “It takes all of us, each playing a role to ensure our children have the best possible start in life. The public-private partnership that is Union County First Steps works collaboratively with families, schools and communities to support children’s readiness for school.”
This week, [I CAN] signs began popping up along roadways in every county, courtesy of local First Steps partnerships.
“The idea is to spark interest about what [I CAN] is all about,”said Childers.
In the coming weeks, [I CAN] will offer multiple opportunities for people to get involved in their local communities via the [I CAN] web site (http://ican.sc), Facebook (icansc), and Twitter (#icansc).
In 2014, the SC General Assembly passed Act 287, which includes the state’s first-ever legal definition of school readiness. The law also charged First Steps with working in collaboration with the State Board of Education to develop a family-friendly description of the ready kindergartner.
“School readiness is about more than academic content,” Wingate added. “Certainly, numbers and letters are important, but it’s also important that families provide for the physical, social and emotional needs of their children and that schools and communities support families.”
The “Profile of the Ready Kindergartner” aligns with both state standards and the “Profile of the South Carolina Graduate” released by TransformSC in September of 2013.
“Where the ‘Profile of the South Carolina Graduate’ highlights skills and characteristics needed for college, career, and citizenship readiness, benchmarks found in the ‘Profile of the Ready Kindergartner’ serve as the building blocks for these traits,” added Susan DeVenny, Director of South Carolina First Steps. “Skills that foster adult success are firmly rooted during a child’s early years.”
Initial Endorsers of the “Profile of the Ready Kindergartner” are:
• SC First Steps to School Readiness
• SC State Board of Education
• SC Council on Competitiveness’ TransformSC
• SC Chamber of Commerce
• The LARCUM Bishops’ Education Initiative
• SC Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics
• Palmetto State Teachers Association
For more information about the Profile of the Ready Kindergartner and the [I CAN] public awareness campaign, visit http://ican.sc.
For more information about First Steps, visit scfirststeps.com or find us on Facebook — Union County First Steps to School Success. You may also call 864-429-1740, ext.134.
This story was submitted by South Carolina First Steps to School Readiness.