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Ready, Set Kindergarten!

Connecting New Kindergarteners During Remote Learning

from the Oak Park Public Library website

For four weeks this summer, the E-Team partnered with the Oak Park Public Library, the Collaboration for Early Childhood, and District 97 on Ready, Set, Kindergarten!

This formerly in-person program was revamped to provide free online classes and support for Oak Park and River Forest families with incoming kindergartners who would benefit from additional instruction time on preschool concepts and experience with remote learning to prepare for the fall.

“We have heard from families about the anxiety they are feeling as their children prepare for remote learning in the fall,” said the E-Team’s Frances Kraft. “That anxiety is amplified when it’s a child beginning kindergarten, especially for families going through this transition for the first time.”

Ready, Set, Kindergarten! included one-on-one instruction with a certified teacher over Zoom, plus a weekly virtual support circle hosted by the E-Team, where families could share experiences and get tips from teachers and other families. Teachers assigned skill-building exercises using a website accessed on library-loaned iPad minis. And library staff provided a weekly live, virtual storytime, providing a space for children to connect and prepare for the school year. In addition, DuShaun Branch from Sage Gawd Collective provided yoga and mindfulness video and live sessions for students and families. 

“During our time with Ready, Set, Kindergarten! it was of utmost importance to us that the children feel seen and heard across the virtual platform,” said the library’s Early Childhood Community Engagement Specialist Nora Sanchez. “An authentic connection in this fashion makes it possible for social emotional learning to take place as they sharpen literacy skills.”

Families also received weekly activity box deliveries, including learning materials, manipulatives, and library books personally selected for every child. “Every family was interviewed and asked to tell us unique things about their child,” Kraft said. “From this information, the library was able to gather books based on each child’s interest.” 

“Partnering with the library and the Collaboration is an innovative way to help support students, connect families, and build excitement for the school year during this difficult time,” Kraft added. “A community partnership approach brings the best of what each partner does to create a new approach that has the potential to change the way systems currently work.”

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