We had the opportunity to chat with Jay Hixon, Public Relations Manager for the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library about their new and exciting program focused on school readiness for children entering Kindergarten! This program is free to the public and is such a fantastic way to get your little one (3-6 year olds) ready to jump into learning.
Tell us a little bit about the Ready, Set, Kindergarten Program and why you think it is important for children in our community.
Ready, Set, Kindergarten is a ten-week program that aims to help your 3 to 5 year-old explore and practice the skills needed to ensure a smooth transition into Kindergarten. School readiness is so important for 3 to 5 year-olds, and school can be a huge adjustment, especially if your child hasn’t attended pre-k. We hope to help make this adjustment a little easier for caregivers and their children.
Is this program one that children could participate in more than once if they are on the younger end of the age range?
Parents and children are welcome to attend the program as many times as they like. The program will run three cycles through August. Caregivers are also welcome to download our weekly tip sheets from our website to go over the lessons at home.
What encouraged the HMCPL to launch such a program?
Madison County has three public school systems that offer Pre-K programs, but a lottery system determines enrollment. With limited Pre-K options, the demand is high, and both private and public programs in the area have a waitlist of over 400 students. We were given the opportunity to apply for a grant through the Institute of Museum and Library Services and thought this would be an excellent opportunity to develop a new program to help fill in that gap for children who may be stuck on this waitlist or to assist caregivers looking for additional help with school readiness.
Will the weekly lessons be more emotion based or will they be more focused on preparing children for school assessment/readiness when they enter Kindergarten?
Both! We have themes for stem-related skills such as measuring, counting, patterns, and shapes. But social-emotional skills are also a very important aspect of being ready for school. We will learn about self-esteem and how to handle emotions we all have, such as worry, anger, and other problem-solving skills. We will also explore perseverance, persistence, and nature-based learning.
Do children need to have any level of schooling before entering the program or is it a safe space for all levels of learning?
This is a safe space and we’re here to facilitate all levels of learning.
Is this a free or paid program?
This program is 100% free and made possible by grant funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Huntsville-Madison County Library Foundation.
How long do the lessons run each week?
Each lesson will run about 30 to 45 minutes.
If children miss weeks, is there a way for parents/children to access the missed week’s skills online?
Each week’s skill is offered at all ten library branches on different days and times; giving families with varying schedules an opportunity to attend. If you miss a session, you can access each week’s caregiver tip sheet at hmcpl.org/kindergarten or catch the program at a different HMCPL branch that week.
Who will be teaching these classes each week?
Each program will be taught by your library’s Youth Services Librarian.
Tell us about the school readiness kit mentioned on the website.
We have kits to match each weekly theme available for check out. Each kit has themed picture books and an activity or game for your child to do at home.
Where can our parents find a schedule for each library and when they’ll have their Ready, Set, Kindergarten! program?
Events.hmcpl.org or find the list here:
Downtown Huntsville Public Library: Wednesday, 10AM
Cavalry Hill Public Library: Mondays, 1PM
North Huntsville Public Library: Thursdays, 1PM
South Huntsville Public Library: Tuesdays, 1PM
Monrovia Public Library: Tuesdays, 1PM
Madison Public Library: Fridays 10AM
New Hope Public Library: Tuesdays, 2PM
Gurley Public Library: Thursdays, 1PM
Tillman D. Hill Public Library of Hazel Green: Wednesdays, 10:30AM
Triana Public Library: Saturdays, 1PM
Do you need to register or just show up?
Families are welcome to just show up and attend the program at all ten of our library locations.
Is there anything else you’d like us to know about the program?
We would love to have you attend! This program is as much for caregivers as it is for children. We hope you will learn skills you can take home and practice with your children to aid in a smooth transition to Kindergarten. After you’ve attended a program, we’d love to hear your feedback! There is a survey on HMCPL.org/kindergarten that will help us continue to grow and develop this program.
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