Program prepares children for kindergarten, success

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NEWPORT, Pa. (WHTM) – Even though school is out for summer, it’s in session for a group of preschool children in Perry County.

“At this age, children 3-5 are learning so much. Their brains are saturated with the information they are taking in on a regular basis,” said Dawn Clouse, an educational liaison for the Ready for School, Ready to Succeed program.

Liaisons are funded through United Way of the Capital Region.

“[The program] allows educational liaisons to come into schools and help families become comfortable coming into the school prior to their child starting kindergarten,” Clouse said.

“We found that once a kid is ready for school, reading, and math proficient by third grade, they are more likely to graduate,”  said Tim Fatzinger, the president CEO of United Way of the Capital Region.

School districts provide a classroom. Preschool students attend multiple workshops with family members or guardians. Together, they take part in learning activities “that center around literacy, math, science, gross motor skills, and fine motor skills,” Clouse said.

Each child is given a toolkit to enrich education at home.

“There are so few opportunities for preschool education in Perry County, we jumped on it,” Newport Elementary principal Michael Smith said.

Smith says he has noticed a difference since the program started two years ago.

“The kids are coming into us ready to enter kindergarten and enter school,” Smith said.

Children in Dauphin and Cumberland counties are benefiting, too.

“We are in other school districts now. Twelve different elementary schools are part of the program,” Fatzinger said.

In addition to early childhood education, United Way of the Capital Region is tackling workforce development, access to health care and basic needs.

For more information, go to www.uwcr.org.

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