Too many children in Detroit begin school already far behind those in more wealthier communities. From an early age, they can struggle with hunger, safety, self-esteem, communication and social skills, as well as access to meaningful learning opportunities. They may need help with health issues. If these issues aren’t addressed at an early age, our children can fall behind.
Moreover, as studies repeatedly show, access to high quality preschool and kindergarten improves school readiness for these children, making it more likely that they will be able to read at grade level each year, graduate from high school and achieve their career goals.
This is why it is so important to start kindergarten as soon as possible to combat the school readiness gap and give our children the advantage they so deserve. Kindergarten makes the difference, and even in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, parents are encouraged to prepare their children for school in the fall.
University Prep Schools is already working on ways we might adapt this upcoming kindergarten year to a coronavirus world. Certainly, a regular in-person, at school experience is what teachers and parents would prefer, made workable through enhanced cleaning protocols and social distancing practices. This will be another outstanding learning opportunity for children. But our schools also are preparing for other modes of education, including remote learning or a mixture of remote and in-school classes.
Regardless, now is the time for parents and guardians to explore the different schools offering kindergarten in Detroit, some of which start in August. In Michigan, all children are required to begin school by 6 years of age, while children must be 5-years-old by September 1 to attend kindergarten.
Kindergarten—A new world of discovery and good habits.
In kindergarten, our children learn about others beyond their immediate family and neighborhood. They explore new ideas and skills in a protective, nurturing environment. They learn to set and achieve goals and work together in groups. They benefit from school health screenings that can catch early childhood medical issues like hearing loss and vision problems which can impede learning, dental decay that can be painful; developmental issues; and school nutrition programs that serve healthy, satisfying food.
This is the time to develop good attendance habits. It’s also the time to nurture a lifelong love of learning.
Preparing well for grade school will improve outcomes in literacy. Michigan already has a third grade reading retention rule (Public Act 306), which began with the 2019-2020 school year. The law states that a child may be retained and asked to repeat third grade if they are one or more grade levels behind in reading at the end of third grade.
The goal of this bill is not to punish children or parents. Instead, the bill requires schools to provide a customized reading program for identified students. The program is designed to improve individual reading concerns, while also working with parents to develop at-home reading strategies. We are all on the same page when it comes to the importance of reading — and kindergarten begins that journey to reading at grade level.
Please enroll your eligible child in the upcoming kindergarten season and get involved with your school of choice. The advantages of starting children in school at age five are many. U Prep and other Detroit schools will work closely with parents and guardians to ensure that Detroit’s children get off to a great start on their school years.
We all need and welcome your participation in your child’s educational journey. Together we can make it happen, but only if they are enrolled.