“Everything that we’ve learned here today will make a difference in children’s lives.” Charity Johnson was thinking about the preschoolers in her care and the support she discovered one recent Saturday at Louisville’s First Gethsemane Baptist Church.
Charity, owner of Kids ‘R Us Enrichment & Development Center, was among more than 60 preschool directors and caregivers from low-income neighborhoods in Louisville taking advantage of free Early Childhood training offered by KET.
Through the Everyday Learning grant provided by the James Graham Brown and PNC Foundations and in partnership with the National Center for Families Learning and Metro United Way, KET has created an expansive collection of Everyday Learning videos, interactives and classroom activities using original animation and images to introduce basic concepts of math, science, health, social studies and art to students in preschool through first grade.
Each educator leaves a training session with a curriculum toolkit, conveniently organized in binders, offering lesson plans and training materials. “Oh gosh, yeah! Going through and doing lesson plans is a lot of work,” said an excited and relieved Lana Albin, a caregiver at the MiniVersity in downtown Louisville. “This is all put together.”
“We try really hard to make the sessions interactive and fun, letting the teachers participate in some of the activities in the binders so they can see how easy it can be to implement them into their classrooms,” noted Amanda Wright, KET’s Early Childhood Education Manager. “It’s unbelievable how many amazing resources teachers and families just don’t know about. All of these things can be used to get the kids in Jefferson County and across the state ready for kindergarten.”
Kindergarten readiness is a powerful indicator of whether a child succeeds in life. Established reports say 50 percent of Kentucky preschoolers are unprepared for kindergarten. Additional pilot data released by the Kentucky Department of Education, however, indicates the unprepared rate is reaching 70 percent. The KET Everyday Learning training program responds to this disturbing trend, offering childcare providers in under-served neighborhoods the tools and knowledge they need to ensure that they are preparing children in their care to begin the learning process that will carry them through their teens and into adulthood.
At the First Gethsemane session, KET Early Childhood Education Consultant Eamonn FitzGerald led an “Art to Heart” class on the ways music, dance, drama, literature, and the visual arts can capture and inspire young minds and connect with other critical areas of learning. “We’re able to give early childhood providers specific ideas, activities, resources and consumables that they could literally leave the session with and do the activity with the kids they teach.”
“I do see the connection,” said Dr. Annette Bridges, Director of the First Gethsemane Child Development Center. “This gives a foundation for early math, literacy; not just physical and fine motor development but self-concept and social/emotional development.”
Caregivers each left the day’s training sessions with a tote bag bulging with materials including books, construction paper, dancing scarves and other tools. In all, more than $5,000 worth of materials was provided.
Charity Johnson has experienced her fair share of preschool caregiver training programs. “If it was a one out of ten, “she said of the KET Everyday Learning program, “ I would definitely give it a ten.”
For more information go to KET Early Childhood Education Professional Development.