United Way Born Learning Academy--An Innovative Way to Help Prepare Kids for Kindergarten
The United Way Born Learning Academy is an innovative approach that meets a critical need in Kentucky communities - early childhood parental education. A school-based Academy consists of six session workshops which provide parents with tools to help their child succeed in kindergarten and beyond. The goal of the Academy is to help prepare children for kindergarten by turning everyday moments into learning opportunities. Parents of young children prenatal to five are engaged in hands-on activities and discussion about what it means to be ready for kindergarten and by offering them strategies they can use at home to maximize their child’s early learning and development. The intentional placement of a school setting allows for parents and children to gain insight and a level of comfort needed to help transition into school later. This is also an opportunity for school leaders to get to know the family and their needs - all leading to long-standing and positive parent-teacher relationships.
The United Way Born Learning Academy was developed by Kenton County Schools, Early Childhood Faculty Members from Northern Kentucky University, and United Way of Greater Cincinnati Success By 6 to support kindergarten readiness. The intent of the Academy is to engage families with the school system in the earliest years of their child's education, much like the Harlem Children's Zone's "Baby College" in New York. Under the leadership of former Superintendent Tim Hanner, Beechgrove Elementary was selected to pilot the project. It experienced such overwhelming success that Northern Kentucky expanded the project to four other school districts, and the Academy has been highlighted by United Way Worldwide as a best practice. This model provides families the best tools available so children are ready to learn when they make it to school.
United Way Born Learning Academy is a six session parent engagement project involving one night after school each month. There will be a need for a strong commitment by the district and school leadership to be a part of the United Way Born Learning Academy. Participating schools must make a sincere attempt to recruit and build relationships with busy, overwhelmed parents and caregivers. The school is provided with the United Way Born Learning Academy materials, training, and pre/post surveys. Selected schools will be expected to gather pre/post surveys from the school and submit to a United Way Born Learning Academy project manager with United Way of Kentucky. The Academy is an excellent strategy for schools to reach out and support school readiness. The key to the success of the workshop series is school ownership and effectively leveraging existing resources, keeping in mind that we can to achieve more together than any one organization could alone.
Ready Schools + Ready Community = Readiness in the Child