Many local kids aren't ready for kindergarten

Many local kids aren't ready for kindergarten

YAKIMA, Wash.-- In West Valley, kindergarten teachers say they feel as though kids just aren’t ready when they set foot in the classroom on day one. Many come in unprepared.

“I think kindergarten is the grade where you see the biggest achievement gap between kids. I mean, you have kids come in and they've never been to any kind of preschool or anything before, and they don't know any letter names or sounds. They can’t count. They don't know how to interact with kids,” said Ahtanum Valley Elementary School kindergarten teacher Katie Horton.

She said there’s a huge difference between those who are getting a jump start on their education, by attending preschool- so much so, that it holds the kids who are ahead, back.

“And then you have other kids that are coming in, who have gone to preschool and have gotten a lot of that enrichment at home, and they’re practically reading when they come in, so there’s definitely a huge, huge gap between those kids,” said Horton.

Many families don't enroll their children into preschool because Washington state doesn't yet offer universal preschool. Many would have to reach into their pockets to send their kids. But, there are options for those with low income.

A lot of families aren’t aware that there's state funded preschool. The state legislature just added more funding for children to be served in the state of Washington.

Kids that go to preschool in West Valley are reaping the benefits. They're not only ahead academically, but West Valley’s assistant superintendent says they're able to sit and actually pay attention.

Unfortunately, according to Education Service District 105, in central Washington, only 47% of kids were kindergarten ready last year.

“They learn a lot from being in our classrooms, just from them being here, and being able to be in a classroom, and learning to control their emotions, and being able to be around other kiddos,” said preschool teacher Lynette Mendoza.

If families don't qualify for state funded preschool, the West Valley School District also offers a free full-day transition experience for five-year-olds, called Jump Start to Kindergarten, which focuses on academic and social skills.

You can find more information at the West Valley School District website.

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