A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Parents, there’s still time to get your child into summer “Countdown to Kindergarten”


Kindergarten is the first step in most children’s full-time education and is often an adjustment for children and their parents.


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The Fayette County Public School system’s new program, “Countdown to Kindergarten,” aims to prepare students and their families to begin kindergarten by engaging them in educational, yet entertaining, activities this summer.


The program kicked off with “Kindergarten Rumpus” on Saturday, June 11, at the Lexington Children’s Theater, where kids and their families acted out the children’s book “Where the Wild Things Are” with props and homemade costumes.


The children and their parents “just had a blast acting out ‘Where the Wild Things Are,’” said Yajaira Aich, the vice president of community relations at PNC Bank, which provided the initial grant to FCPS to start the program.


Aich said that the program allows incoming kindergarteners “to have some new experiences.” The events expose children to the arts and being around other children and learn to do things independent from their families, she said.


“There’s a lot of things that can come out of these summer activities.”


Aich began working with Whitney Stevenson, early childhood gap intervention specialist for FCPS, in December 2010. They had both heard about an educational program in Louisville, “Kindergarten Countdown,” and wanted to start something similar in Lexington.


PNC provided FCPS with a $13,000 grant to help get the program started. The grant came from PNC’s “Grow Up Great” program, a $100 million investment that began nationally 10 years ago and was launched in Lexington in 2010. The program promotes and encourages success in school and life for young children.


They want to “get families excited about education and how fun it can be” and understand that education doesn’t have to just take place in a classroom setting, Aich said. (WHO said this?)


United Way and the Child Care Council of Kentucky also joined FCPS to provide funding and administrative support for the program, Aich said.


The second event of the summer program, “Art Day,” was held at ArtsPlace on Saturday, June 18. The Lexington Ballet held a movement workshop and brought four professional dancers to the event, and the Lexington Philharmonic held an instrument petting zoo, Aich said.


“All three (organizations) so far have presented some quality activities,” Aich said.


Any child who has registered to start kindergarten in the fall at any Fayette County public elementary school can attend the remaining events this summer. To be admitted into the events, parents need to pick up a “Countdown to Kindergarten” t-shirt at any Lexington Public Library branch once their child is registered.


“We want families to get excited about it and get their child registered,” Stevenson said.

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