VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Virginia has a problem with our littlest learners.
The Virginia Kindergarten Readiness Program shows 42% of students in the state are entering kindergarten unprepared in at least one of four critical learning domains: Literacy, mathematics, self-regulation and social skills.
Now, a Virginia Beach preschool is among 112 across the state testing a new curriculum that aims to help more students succeed.
Children’s Learning Paradise is using the STREAMin3 curriculum. It stands for: science, technology, reading, engineering, art and math which is intentionally integrated through interaction. In other words, kids are learning without even realizing it and it starts as soon as they walk in the door.
“This is the name-writing routine,” Tara Powell said as she pointed to a white board with children’s pictures and black marker scribbles. “It’s a way we support children’s early writing experience.”
Powell is a coach from the University of Virginia. She visits the preschool once a week to support teachers.
She explained that there are no worksheets or teachers holding the children’s hands at the board; they write their names themselves.
“It’s self-motivating,” she said. Then, she pointed to a small group of children moving nap cots. She described the activity as a lesson in teamwork and problem-solving.
UVA created the curriculum along with the New E3 School in Norfolk, which has been using the method for five years.
“They all have met or exceeded kindergarten entry benchmarks and, in fact, this last cohort some of our lower-income children actually exceeded the benchmarks above our upper-income families,” Elevate Early Education (E3) CEO Lisa Howard told WAVY TV 10.
The director at Children’s Learning Paradise, Luz Padilla, sees a difference after just a few months.
“It’s very interactive, it’s very dynamic, very hands on, which is of course is really impacting their learning,” Padilla said.
It impacts everything from math, to literacy, to self-regulation. The curriculum has visible impacts: A teacher directed one boy to talk with “Tucker the Turtle.” The stuffed animal has a story about how he tucks himself into his shell and takes three deep breaths to calm himself down.
“We want to not only impact the children that are walking through those doors every single day but impact even more children,” Howard said.
Their goal is to get data to lawmakers and money to expand the program so more children can get ready for kindergarten.