Kindergarten readiness to expand across Charleston County

The Charleston County School District is addressing the county’s kindergarteners’ needs.
Published: Dec. 1, 2022 at 4:34 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 1, 2022 at 7:52 AM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston County School District is addressing the county’s kindergarteners’ needs.

Leaders in the school district hosted a conference Wednesday with community members.

CCSD Superintendent Donald Kennedy says far too many kids are unprepared going into elementary school and they have called in reinforcements to help.

The district is looking to implement early learning tactics that had had great success in the Mississippi Department of Education.

“The responsibility of the wellbeing of children is not only reliant on the school district but the community as a whole,” Kennedy says

Therefore, community partners, local childcare providers and municipal partners were called to discuss Kindergarten readiness.

Kennedy says the issue is that kids in pre-K aren’t learning how to read, write, or socialize in a classroom. So, when they get to kindergarten, they are far behind making it difficult for teachers to get them up to speed.

“Locally we’ve seen this for a number of years, so this is not something that came up because of covid, it was exacerbated because of covid,” Kennedy says.

After seeing the Mississippi Department of Education’s success after implementing kindergarten readiness, Kennedy knew CCSD needed their assistance.

Jill Dent, director of the office of early childcare with the Mississippi Department of Education, was invited as the keynote speaker for the symposium.

“We have been working really hard really fast to be able to implement our state-funded pre-k program, as well as our high-quality initiatives throughout the state in early childhood. That could be in pre-K classrooms as well as kindergarten classrooms,” Dent says.

Typically, in pre-K classrooms, kids’ days are filled with playing whereas Dent says it should include preparing for kindergarten.

Mississippi schools have been able to create high-quality classrooms by requiring pre-K teachers to have a degree in education with an emphasis on early childhood, practicing purposeful play and getting them ready to read.

“We really make sure that they have their foundational skills before they go to kindergarten,” Dent says.

Kennedy says this is the beginning of this work in Charleston County and hopes to discuss actionable next steps.

To learn more about the county’s pre-K development program click here.