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May 4, 2010 > First 5

First 5

Submitted By Erin Freschi
Photos By Karyn Barnes

Kindergarten is an exciting milestone that marks a new stage in a child's growth and development, but it's also a critical crossroad. Research shows that children who develop learning skills before starting kindergarten are better positioned for academic success - while those without the opportunity may fall behind and be at risk of struggling in school later.

For children unable to attend preschool, kindergarten preparation programs can help get them ready for school. Locally, First 5 Alameda County's Summer Pre-K program is designed for kids who have no previous preschool or licensed child care experience and will be entering kindergarten in the fall. During this free five-week program, children gain basic school readiness skills, learn to socialize in a group setting and receive one-on-one attention from highly qualified teachers. Parents also receive resources, including access to a child development specialist if needed.

This summer, First 5 Alameda County will be offering its Summer Pre-K program through nine local school districts. In the Fremont Unified School District, classes will be held from June 28 to July 29 at Blacow Elementary School and Durham Elementary School.

Research shows that First 5 Alameda County's Summer Pre-K program significantly improves a child's performance in several key skill areas important for success in school. In fact, kindergarten readiness studies in Alameda County in 2008 and 2009 found that children in the First 5 Summer Pre-K program were just as prepared for kindergarten in some skill areas as kids who attended regular preschool programs. The research also showed that children who completed these programs outperformed those who had no preschool experience.

Like all early education programs, kindergarten preparation classes benefit our larger society as well. Studies show that for every dollar invested in early learning, a community can save as much as $8 to $12 from reduced need for remedial education and intervention programs. That's good news for Alameda County as more than 2,000 children have attended First 5 Summer Pre-K classes since the program began in 2001.

First 5 Alameda County is working to ensure young children continue to enter kindergarten prepared to reach their full potential. The commission was recently awarded $1.8 million from the Thomas J. Long Foundation to expand the Summer Pre-K program over the next five years. With this support and local First 5 contributions, First 5 Alameda County will be able to continue offering these kindergarten preparation sessions - sponsoring 50 Summer Pre-K classes in school districts throughout the county by 2014.

To register your child in the Fremont Unified Summer Pre-K program, contact Beverly Taub with the Fremont Unified School District at (510) 659-2579. For more information on the First 5 Summer Pre-K program throughout Alameda County, contact Erin Freschi at (510) 875-2471. For more information on other First 5 Alameda County-funded programs, call (510) 875-2400.

Erin Freschi is the School Readiness Program Administrator at First 5 Alameda County.

About First 5 Alameda County
Research shows that a child's brain develops most dramatically in the first five years and what parents and caregivers do during these years to support their child's growth will have a meaningful impact throughout life. Based on this research, California voters passed Proposition 10 in 1998, adding a 50 cents-per-pack tax on cigarettes to support programs for expectant parents and children ages 0 to 5. First 5 Alameda County distributes Prop. 10 revenues to programs and services that meet local needs.

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