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Sixty percent of Joplin's kindergarteners not ready for school - KOAM TV 7

Sixty percent of Joplin's kindergarteners not ready for school

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JOPLIN, MISSOURI -

Every summer, the Joplin School District screens incoming kindergarteners to determine if they are ready for school. These developmental screenings show that more than half of the kindergarteners in the district are not quite ready to begin. Sixty percent of the students enrolled this year scored not ready, or at or below the 45th percentile.

The kids are tested on their motor skills, concepts, and language. Parents also fill out questionnaires on their child's self-help and social-emotional skills.

“A child that we would feel like is kindergarten ready would be one that's very self-confident, one that recognizes that the print is for reading, recognizing their alphabet, being able to tell their complete name," says Patty Wheeler, coordinator of Parents as Teachers in Joplin schools.

To improve these scores, school officials say kindergarten preparation needs to start at home.

“Getting ready for kindergarten doesn't start the three months before school starts, it starts the day they're born. It starts with reading to them early, talking to them early, giving them lots of experiences early," continues Wheeler.

Parents as Teachers is a program funded by the Joplin School District that brings developmental testing into a child's home prior to kindergarten. Parents are given activities to encourage their child's development.? Simply reading, talking, and playing with kids can help them to develop.

“We count, we read, he knows his shapes, colors, you just got to work with them," says Ralisha Clark whose son just started kindergarten at West Central Elementary.

The children who can't could place a strain on the learning environment and teacher.

“If you've got 10 children in the classroom and 6 of them are ready to move forward and 4 of them aren't, those 4 will take up a lot of that teacher's time. So what are we doing with these other 6," continues Wheeler.

“It’s not just their job, I mean the teachers, it's a big responsibility but you're also a parent, they're going to look up to you and follow in your footsteps," continues Clark.

Most students do catch up, but school is often more enjoyable for those who don't have to.

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