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Kindergarten Success Institutes

What are Kindergarten Success Institutes (KSI)

Kindergarten Success Institutes (KSI) improve classroom skills for nearly 200 low-income 4-6 year olds who have little or no prior early educational experience. During the 4-6 week session (implemented before/after school and during the summer at 10 local sites), UWSBC provides best practice and research-based curriculum and credentialed teachers to help students master the social/emotional, language, motor and approach to learning skills that are essential to their future success in school. Last year, participants improved their academic and social/emotional skills by 55%!

Why KSI?

Early childhood education is crucial in preparing children for the social, academic, and behavioral traits needed for successful learning in kindergarten and far beyond. Unfortunately, low-income families have few options in terms of affordable preschools. Consequences of reduced preschool access are that just 28% of Santa Barbara County’s 2014/15 kindergarteners tested as “kindergarten-ready”, according to THRIVE Santa Barbara County’s 2015 Baseline Report.

Kindergarten Success Institutes offer a good start in life by developing children's academic and social/emotional skills. KSIs help children socialize with adults and other children and develop important language, physical, and cognitive skills. There is growing recognition that children who attend quality early educational programs are likely to be more successful both in school and later in life.

Children who have not attended preschool often do not know basic numbers, shapes, and colors, or how to spell their names, use scissors, sit still in a circle, share, or cope with frustration. For many children, catching up to their peers who have attended preschool can be extremely difficult.

Who are the kids?

KSI sites typically have sizable percentages (65-100%) of low-income students receiving Free/Reduced-Price Lunch benefits (family gross annual income at about $45,000 or below for a family of four) and limited access to similar affordable early education programs. Participants are 4-6 years old and are identified by school staff as being from low-resource families and having had little or no previous preschool experience.

What are We Doing?

In just 4-6 short weeks, KSI improve classroom skills for low-income 4-6 year olds who have little or no prior early educational experience. KSI sessions are offered at 10 local schools during the summer or in modified form before/after school. Through a hands-on, individualized curriculum, students are able to master the social/emotional, language, motor and approach to learning skills that are essential to their future success in kindergarten and beyond.

At each site, a certified teacher and instructional aide work with groups of 18 to 25 students to help them learn basic skills expected of kindergarteners and first graders (i.e., sharing, numbers, colors, letters, etc.). Teaching is individualized to address each student’s particular presenting needs. Parents and community volunteers are also recruited to assist staff with activities such as story time and to show participants that their parents and other adults are invested in their academic development.

During KSI sessions, participants also receive UWSBC’s Home Play Learning Kits, interactive, bilingual kits with educational materials and books designed to engage children and parents in learning together at home. Parents also receive their own kits with information and referrals to other valuable resources to help them better support their families’ educational, financial stability, and health goals.

What are our goals?

  • Familiarize children with classroom activites and the school setting

  • Help them to overcome their fear of being away from home.

  • Build important skills needed for kindergarten.

  • Develop early literacy skills.

  • Improve English skills.

  • Effectively engage parents and families in their child's education.

  • Connect families with community resources

Program Achievements

According to Kindergarten Student Entrance Profile results, the children who participated improved significantly in all of the four main areas of targeted impact: Social Emotional, Approach to Learning, Language Skills, and Motor Skills.

On average, KSI participants show a 50% improvement by the end of the program!