Adams County Health Department
(217) 222-8440 ext. 107
Introduction to Kindergarten: Kindergarten Camp
Adams County is located in West-Central Illinois on the most western point of Illinois on the Mississippi River. Quincy is the largest city in Adams County and has been known as the Gem City. It is often attributed to the fact that it shines like a gem when one approaches it from the Missouri bottom lands across the Mississippi River. In Quincy, Maine Street is a living architectural museum showing the history of the community in the prevailing styles of architecture as the city spread to the east. Roughly six percent of Adams County residents are under the age of five. Quincy is ranked as number six in the most affordable places to live in Illinois and it also has a large marina that is one of the largest natural bays on the Mississippi. The combination of a large city with many attractions along with the rural countryside makes Adams County a great place for families with young children.
For several years Adams County All Our Kids (AOK) Network has been struggling with the gap in education services for three and four year olds. Recent cuts in funding for Head Start and Preschool Programs has also made it challenging to prepare children for Kindergarten. In 2001, there were 450 slots in which children were enrolled in Illinois State Board of Education Preschool programs. In 2010, the slots increased to 700 and were cut down again in 2012 to 420 slots (less than what was available in 2001). Currently over 300 three and four year olds in Adams County do not have access to affordable, quality preschool programs. The Adams County AOK network partners decided to take action in trying to reduce this gap in service and increase the number of children prepared for Kindergarten. The local AOK decided to partner with Quincy Park District to come up with ideas on how to introduce children to Kindergarten.
The local park district provided a staff person to facilitate the sessions, but needed someone to create lesson plans and provide supplies. Fortunately, an AOK partner who is the Director of the Quincy Early Child and Family Center volunteered staff to help develop lesson plans and activities on social skills and kindergarten readiness for the sessions. An AOK network partner was present at each session to provide assistance as needed. AOK partners determined that classes would run for two weeks at the end of July and be held Tuesdays through Thursdays for half a day. Lunch was provided by the public school system through the Summer Lunch Program. Sessions were held at Washington School in Quincy, so that children could become introduced to a school setting as well as take advantage of the summer lunch program.
The goal was to register children who would be going to kindergarten in August and had no prior formal early learning experience such as Head Start and/or Preschool programs. The program had capacity to enroll 20 children at $15 for the entire two week session. Through the AOK Network’s “Kindergarten Camp” children were introduced to their first school experience and were better prepared for their first day of Kindergarten. The Adams County AOK hopes to continue to provide these opportunities to families who want their children to be prepared for Kindergarten but are unable to access the limited slots that are available due to cuts in funding. With resources from AOK partners who are experienced in early education this Network strives to have young children walk-in to their schools every fall ready to learn.
What resources are necessary to replicate this approach?
- School setting for location
- Age appropriate lesson plans/activities
- Appropriate staff to facilitate sessions
- Network/Community Support
- Media (to get the word out)