School has started and thanks to Inspiring Minds’ summer kindergarten prep program, KidsBridge, Alanah and 150 other children like her are better prepared for school. Alanah came to our program with no preschool and few learning experiences, she was years behind in skills needed for kindergarten. It is hard for us to imagine that at 5 years old she could not recognize her name much less write it, she didn’t know letters, and for lack of practice had trouble holding her pencil and using scissors. Additionally, she had a limited vocabulary so had difficulty understanding directions. She needed more time to catch up but that was not an option. School was starting in six weeks.
Inspiring Minds fills service gaps and so developed KidsBridge for children like Alana. It provides an alternative to more time – intense individual attention in a structured program. After seven years we see that it does increase skills. As you know five year olds learn quickly and with so much individual help, they learn even faster. It is exciting to watch as they gain new skills from one day to another. The strength of the program is Inspiring Minds’ uniqueness, its huge numbers of volunteers.
After 80 hours of academic, social, and language help this five year old sponge showed dramatic gains. Alanah was comfortable in the classroom setting, could follow instructions, learned letters, understood numbers and most importantly to her, she recognized her name and could write it. She was confident and felt smart.
A wonderful part of the program is its ripple effect. In September the KidsBridge children become leaders, directing the new students and assuring those crying it would be ok.
KidsBridge, however, is only the path to Inspiring Minds’ larger goal. Nationally and locally there is an urgency to have all third graders proficient in reading and math and Rhode Island is 15 years behind the year 2000 which was the national goal set in 1990.
The biggest reason for not reaching that goal is the lack of preschool for thousands of children whose families can’t afford it. Yet preschool is the prime indicator for a child graduating. Even with that knowledge the state has invest insufficient dollars. So Inspiring Minds created a tested model for a less costly yet effective alternative that could serve Providence and the state. It provides an option instead of nothing.
Inspiring Minds is pleased that Providence has shown its support by providing funds toward the KidsBridge program but to scale the program a collaborative state and city effort is needed.
Until then, Inspiring Minds will continue to help as many students as possible get ready for kindergarten. There are now 1,000 children who have benefitted from the program. They continue to do well because Inspiring Minds can provide those still struggling with tutors while in school.
All of this is only possible because of our volunteers and our donors and we can’t begin to thank you enough for your caring and faith in Inspiring Minds ability to make a difference. Thank You!