DOTHAN - Troy University is partnering with two Dothan child care centers to help 4-year-olds better transition into kindergarten.
Project Pre-K to K Transition will provide teaching assistance to Eastside Childcare Learning Center, located on Columbia Highway, and Pal-A-Roos Daycare, located on Hodgesville Road, starting Sept. 12.
"The Pre-K to K Transition Project was formed from recognizing the need in our community to better prepare 4-year-olds to enter kindergarten ready to learn the rigorous standards currently expected," said Project Co-Director Pam Wimbish, a lecturer in the College of Education at the Dothan Campus. "By supporting their learning in a comprehensive research-based curriculum program, the pre-K 4-year-old project will help bridge the academic gap to the majority of the kindergarten classrooms' curriculum programs."
The project, directed by Wimbish and College of Education colleagues Dr. Cynthia Hicks and Dr. Tonya Conner, is funded by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
Eastside Child Care Center Director Wendy Calhoon said her facility prepares children by teaching them academic as well as social skills.
"We teach them their ABCs, get them ready for social skills through just loving them and taking care of them," Calhoon said. "This 4-year-old program is going to be a benefit to our children. This program from Troy University is going to make a program that's already good great."
Project Pre-K to K Transition will include hiring two part-time certified teachers, providing a high-quality research-based curriculum, as well as providing professional development and ongoing support. The project will also include supplying each classroom with a library of high-quality children's literature, and iPads that will have appropriate e-books and educational applications.
In addition, parent/guardian workshops and home visits will be used to equip parents in ways to promote early learning in the home.
"We're excited about it, the parents are excited about it, and my teacher here is excited about it," Calhoon said. "We're honored to be partnered with TROY and working with them on this. The teacher TROY has will come in and work side-by-side with my teacher, with children in room. They will have assessments through the year to see where they are. It will help catch things before they actually enter into kindergarten."
Calhoon said an open house on Aug. 8 will give parents a primer on the details of the program, which officially starts on Sept. 12.
"Our childcare partners are a vital piece of the puzzle, providing the 4-year-old classroom and an assistant daycare teacher to the project's certified teacher," Wimbish said. "The daycare directors are committed to the grant project and understand why it is vital for 4-year-olds to receive this opportunity to better prepare them for their upcoming kindergarten year. Research tells us if pre-K children master skills required of them prior to kindergarten, the likelihood of them being successful in their K-12 experience is much higher than if they were not ready for kindergarten."