PRINEVILLE, OR -- Less than a quarter of all Oregon 4-year olds are enrolled in a formal pre-school program, according to a new study released by the U.S. Department of Education. Principal Dave Robinson of Ochoco Elementary in Prineville has seen first hand the importance of a Pre-K education. "Definitely kids who have had some formal school opportunities before kindergarten are better prepared and will be set up for success in kindergarten better." Robinson tells KBND News there are key areas where early learning can set kids up for future success, "A couple things would be some simple math and reading skills, to be able to count to 10, to do some simple addition. And, probably the biggest thing we know from research, is the kids that don’t have a formal background in school before kindergarten have a much lower vocabulary than kids that do."
Robinson is hopeful a new program will help bridge the achievement gap for young students. "We do that with curriculum trainings, where we work hard with preschools to give them materials they need to offer quality programs. We communicate with families that already have kids in the elementary schools and we bring them into the special events we have here like reading nights and kindergarten round ups. During that time we have all our other community partners for our Pre-K services here available with presentations and booths, offering information." Those partnerships are made possible through the Crook County School District P-3 Initiative
, serving families from prenatal to third grade. "We do a number of things. We actually work with doctors in the region after deliveries, to talk to parents, just to let them know what services are available for health screenings as their baby gets older, and try to direct them into those services right away at the earliest possible age." They also partner kindergarten teachers with area pre-schools to offer curriculum and training.
The district just received a $75,000 grant from the Oregon Community Foundation
to continue the P-3 Initiative for a second year. The comprehensive effort also includes parenting classes and other activities.