If children enter school without the skills needed to succeed, too often they remain behind their peers. Smart Start communities work at the local level to provide opportunities for early learning so that children enter school ready to learn. Here, we provide just a few examples of local activities in the area of early care and education.

PROJECTSTHESE ARE SOME OF THE LOCAL EARLY CARE & EDUCATION PROJECTS

  • Raising A Reader

    All Smart Start Communities implement this early literacy project that engages parents in a daily read-aloud routine with their children from birth to age 5. This project has expanded to over 500 classrooms across the state and serves 5,000+ children and their families.

  • Reach out and Read

    By partnering with local pediatricians, high quality books are entering the homes of low-income families with young children through a "prescription to read" from their family doctor. Pediatricians involved in the Reach Out and Read program in Oklahoma County distribute thousands of books each year. Sites participating in the program include the PPM Clinic, the OU Latino Clinic, Emerson Clinic, and the Pediatric Care Center in Oklahoma City. Plans to expand this program throughout Oklahoma County are in progress.

  • Early Literacy Assessment

    The Early Literacy Project in Muskogee included training for child care providers in Muskogee County both in child care centers and child care homes, a pre-literacy assessment kit, as well as Tier III continuing education credits for the participants. The purpose of the project was to not only provide literacy enrichment within early child care settings, but to also determine future literacy projects for Muskogee County. The goal of the project was to screen thirty percent of three year olds in Muskogee County using the Early Literacy Assessment (ELA) tool which is a one-on-one book reading activity between the child and teacher. The major benefit of the ELA for parents was discovering how their child advanced in literacy skills before and after the project. Teacher became more aware of literacy skills, environmental enhancements, and activities using developmentally appropriate practices while at the same time providing early literacy enrichment activities for the children.

  • Ready! For Kindergarten

    In Oklahoma City, this family-based project provides parents with information and tools needed to prepare their children for kindergarten. Parents are introduced to activities to make learning easy and fun. The project emphasizes the critical need for parent/child interaction for overall healthy development. Children learn social skills such as following simple directions, adjustment to new situations, and kindness and cooperation with others. These skills lead to easier school transition and increased learning potential. In Oklahoma City, over 1,200 children and their families have been served with this project.

  • Rookie Roundup

    This project bridges the gap between services and families with a comprehensive early enrollment event for children entering school for the first time. With a school readiness expert as a guide, parents visit booths with information on support services available in the community. Children receive vision, hearing, and dental screening, and the school nurse inspects immunization records to determine what shots are missing. Parents are provided with a check list of skills to work on before school starts and families with concerns regarding a child's readiness are referred to appropriate education professionals for follow-up. Families leave the event with a clearer understanding of how to get ready for their rookies' debut and professionals know which families require further coaching. Originally implemented in Guthrie, this project has now spread to other Smart Start Communities.

  • Child Care Mini Grants & Conferences

    In an effort to increase star ratings (a quality rating scale for early learning environments), local Smart Start initiatives offer small grants to child care centers and family child care home so that these providers can buy new child appropriate equipment, curriculum, or update their facilities. Child Care Provider Conferences Smart Start Communities provide training opportunities to local child care providers. Often, providers who need training cannot travel to metro areas where most trainings occur. These trainings meet requirements for providers and help to improve their child development knowledge, as well as provide best practices in caring for children. Community conferences have high participation rates with some communities reporting over 300 participants! Combined, our community network has trained 1,600 child care providers through conferences and training projects!

  • Intergenerational Learning

    With an innovative grant award, Smart Start Northwest Oklahoma served as a catalyst to facilitate a unique public/private collaboration to house, staff, and equip two Enid Public School Pre-K classrooms in a senior residential living center in Enid. Intergenerational programs in the context of early childhood education provide natural environments for using the strengths of one generation to meet the needs of another. Both children and senior adults derive richer life perspectives from their intergenerational experiences.

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