Most kindergarten teachers would agree: Children who attend preschool are better prepared socially and academically. Without looking at school records, they can tell which kids attend preschool by the level at which they perform in pre-reading skills and math concepts, play with their classmates, and behave in the classroom.
Throughout their school career, a child is impacted by the foundation they receive in pre-kindergarten programs. Early childhood education develops key skills through activities like painting and story-time, sharing, cooperating, resolving conflicts, and being independent. These social and emotional tools help prepare children for kindergarten and life in general.
This sort of forward-thinking strategy required a community investment, and East Baton Rouge Parish schools are fortunate in that regard. Local sponsors provide great resources and opportunities to the EBR Early Childhood Community Network. Partnerships with LPB, Knock Knock Museum, the East Baton Rouge Parish Library, Capital Area United Way, Family Services of Greater Baton Rouge, Family Road of Greater Baton Rouge, Volunteers of America-Partnerships in Childcare, and countless others. Participating in that network will send students to kindergarten on level and on time.
When children receive the investment of an early start on their education, they build critical skills that impact their future adult lives and influence our community on a larger scale. The Louisiana Department of Education developed the Early Childhood Learning and Development Standards (ELDS). This community network has implemented key strategies to ensure that more children enter kindergarten ready to succeed. Leigh Griffin, Ph.D., and project manager of the EBR Early Childhood Community Network, explained the program and the benefits for parents and children. “Partnership in our network,” she says, “allows parents access to a tight-knit early childhood community that uses coordinated information and enrollment to ease the transition between our network partner schools.”
EAST BATON ROUGE COMMUNITY NETWORK
—44 EBR elementary schools
—2 City of Baker schools
—The Louisiana School for the Deaf & Visually Impaired
—3 EBR Early Start centers
—7 EBR Head Start centers
—2 YWCA Head Start sites
—87 child care centers
—3 private/parochial schools
—4 charter schools
EBR schools are rated proficient and climbing. To maintain the momentum, teachers receive numerous professional development training opportunities. This ensures cutting edge instruction from highly trained and motivated teachers in loving and caring environments. Parents may assume the wait lists for these programs are daunting, but EBR has implemented a structured and efficient system. Says Griffin: “We share the wait lists, so when a family applies to one school, they are registered in the system for recommendations or recruitment to other schools if their first choice is full.” Additionally, the school system’s network is one of the largest in the state and serves more than 5,000 students. Each year EBR had at least three schools rated “Excellent” and numerous state honor roll recipients.