In 2008, nearly half of children entering kindergarten in Sandpoint, Idaho, tested below proficiency for learning readiness. This was due largely to the fact that many families in the rural and underserved area don’t have access to affordable preschool.
Recognizing the critical need, the Panhandle Alliance for Education (PAFE) — a nonprofit organization that supports public education in the Lake Pend Oreille School District — began offering the READY! for Kindergarten program. This early childhood literacy program provides free workshops, materials and other support to help parents and grandparents prepare their babies, toddlers and preschool children for success in school.
In the 10 years since PAFE brought the national school readiness program to the area, nearly 90 percent of the READY! graduates have entered school testing at or above kindergarten readiness levels. Today, the program serves between 250 and 300 families each year in Bonner and Boundary counties.
Panhandle Alliance for Education received a Communities Strategies grant at Innovia Foundation that will allow the organization to continue offering the READY! for Kindergarten program free of charge. Specifically, the funding will help PAFE purchase take-home toolkits filled with educational activities that parents can use to teach their children the skills needed for kindergarten.