2020 Ready Freddy
FOCUS works to ensure that all children who enter school are ready to learn. It does this through supporting the York County community’s early learning centers, family providers, school districts, and stakeholders, in providing quality early childhood experiences for all children. This collaboration has resulted in the development of county-wide resources, shared curriculum and professional development sessions. One of the collaborative programs is the Ready Freddy program, targeted toward children entering kindergarten and their families. United Way has successfully been running the Ready Freddy program in York County since 2009. Parental response to the program is overwhelmingly positive and the program has been delivered in the majority of school districts in York County. Specifically, the program has been implemented in the York City, Northeastern, South Eastern, South Western, Hanover, York Suburban, West York, Dover, Eastern, Spring Grove, and Red Lion school districts.
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The Ready Freddy curriculum was developed by Kevin Smith-Lystico at the Office of Child Development at the University of Pittsburgh. The following themes were addressed:
- Children’s Strengthens and Needs
- Setting and Achieving Goals
- Literacy Skills
- Numeracy Skills
- Social-emotional Skills
- Helping Your Child Learn
A child needs to be “on-track” in all of these areas in order to be successful in kindergarten. Unfortunately, not all families have the skills and/or resources to help their child succeed. Kindergarten teachers reported that many children across York County enter school without experiences with books and reading. Others are not exposed to simple math concepts. Far too many do not have the social skills required to appropriately participate in a classroom setting. These children, at risk of being left behind, are starting school behind and they rarely catch up.
The program is led by an early childhood educator and a kindergarten teacher. The parents and children spend part of the time together on activities and listening to a story. Then the parents spend time away from the children with the kindergarten teacher discussing the theme and learning ways to support their child’s development and readiness for kindergarten. The children work with the early childhood educator on educational activities and learning to get along with their peers.
For example, the session on literacy emphasizes that helping children prepare for reading and writing involves more than teaching them the alphabet. Children need a good vocabulary and lots of exposure to the world around them and how things work. Parents learn about the range of skills that help children learn to read and write and awareness about how to build a foundation for reading and writing in multiple ways. One of the activities for the session is that children tell stories to their parents. The parents practice using open-ended questions to draw out more details. The kindergarten and early childhood teachers model this technique. At the end of each session, the teachers read a book to the families and the families are given a copy of the book to take home.
Research indicates that the most effective kindergarten transition programs include components that involve the child and family, early childhood educators and school personnel. This enables connections to be formed between families, children and educators. It also enables families to learn from each other and for the children to interact with their peers. The school districts that implemented “Ready Freddy” were thrilled with the program. The kindergarten teachers and administrators saw an increase in the knowledge, comfort level with school personnel, and awareness of the school’s policies and curriculum in the parents and children. Several districts have adopted the program annually however there are some districts that need financial support to ensure the program can run within the district.
CLICK HERE to see how Ready Freddy has impacted lives in York County.
For more information about the Ready Freddy program in York County, please contact Julie Myers, FOCUS Program Associate, (717) 771-3822.
To learn more about the program, visit http://www.readyfreddy.org. CLICK HERE to read a story of how Ready Freddy has impacted lives in York County.