New report unveils RPS kindergartener readiness

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The Illinois State Board of Education releases a report on kindergarten students’ readiness — Rockford School District 205 outpaced the state in two out of three categories.

The report is meant to paint a preliminary picture of children’s early development when they enter kindergarten. Local early childhood experts say the statistics give administrators the opportunity to share with the community how important early experiences and learning outside of school are for kids.

In the first 40 days of school last year, teachers used a survey to observe and document students’ skills, knowledge and behavior.

“If children enter kindergarten already behind, it makes it more difficult for them to learn and acquire skills,” said Rockford School District 205 executive director of early childhood Kim Nelson. “With 3rd grade reading being so important, we want to make sure that kids enter kindergarten ready to learn.”

The survey looked at 3 different areas: Social-emotional development, math and language and literacy.

RPS 205 students do better than the state average in social-emotional development and math.

Social-Emotional Development-
RPS 205: 54% of kindergartners are ready
State: 49% of kindergartners are ready

Math-
RPS 205: 32% of kindergartners are ready
State: 30% of kindergartners are ready

“We want them to enter confident,” said Nelson. “[We want them to] have good language skills, have good soft skills like they can share, they can pay attention. That really helps our kindergarten teachers take them to the next learning level.”

RPS fell under the state average in the third area.

Language and Literacy-
RPS 205: 41% of kindergartners are ready
State: 44% of kindergartners are ready

Nelson says the district’s early childhood programs will focus on developing those skills in students.

“[Teachers will be] looking at the types of engaging activities they do with young children, opportunities for them to play with words, word sounds and rhymes.”

Nelson points out, parents play the main role in preparing children. She believes moms and dads can help their kids be ready for kindergarten by engaging them with books, teaching them to identify shapes and counting. But also to problem solve with other people — like when they’re upset or learning to share.

“It’s extremely important to talk with your child,” explained Nelson. “[It’s important] to give their children choices, to encourage them to explore, just engage them in activities that are active and not necessarily so much device driven.”

RPS 205’s early childhood program has also just received a $12 million grant from the state to run their program for the next five years.

Social-Emotional Development-
Freeport: 28% of kindergartners are ready
Harlem:39% of kindergartners are ready
Belvidere:33% of kindergartners are ready

Math-
Freeport: 28% of kindergartners are ready
Harlem: 12% of kindergartners are ready
Belvidere: 15% of kindergartners are ready

Language and Literacy-
Freeport: 22% of kindergartners are ready
Harlem: 25% of kindergartners are ready
Belvidere: 22% of kindergartners are ready

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