School readiness skills are learned by young children through interactions with their parents and caregivers. These skills include language development, physical and motor skills, and social and emotional development, which help children enter kindergarten ready to learn. For young children, school readiness is about listening and asking questions, thinking before acting, knowing how to share and take turns, and being able to do an activity alone or with others.
Access to quality early learning experiences contribute to school readiness in young children. Many families in Cheyenne, Kiowa, and Lincoln counties live in rural and remote communities. They may not have access to high quality child care or preschool programs, and local libraries do not always provide early literacy programs.
To encourage positive early experiences, Cheyenne, Kiowa, Lincoln Early Childhood Council (CKLECC) launched the Fun Tote Program in 2013 with partners from local city libraries, licensed family child care homes, preschool providers, nonprofit partners, and with generous funding support from the Buell Foundation.
The totes provide families with learning materials that build school readiness skills by focusing on early literacy, early math, social and emotional development, and health and physical activity. They also provide tips and resources for families to engage in learning with their child. Each tote is aligned with Colorado’s Early Learning and Developmental Guidelines, which describes optimal learning and development for young children.
Partners engage with families in a variety of ways. The Lincoln County Bookmobile incorporate totes into their monthly stops at licensed family child care homes and family, friend, and neighbor care providers. Participating preschools use them in classrooms or send home with families. Libraries allow families to bring them home for several weeks, while home visiting programs incorporate the totes into their family visits. This approach helps to meet the needs of young children and their families at any geographic location or level of development.
Parents and caregivers regularly report that the Fun Tote Program has helped their child improve or master specific developmental skills. The local library believes the Fun Tote Program to be an asset which reflections the community’s belief in the importance of early childhood learning. Together, CKLECC and local partners are building school readiness skills among young children in rural communities by increasing access to quality early learning experiences.
Learn more about Cheyenne, Kiowa, Lincoln Early Childhood Council’s work to support young children and their families.