Kids' minds are like sponges, especially up to age five. That's why the state is putting new emphasis on early childhood education. Governor Phil Bryant signed an executive order this week creating a task force on Teacher Preparation for Early Literacy.
Mississippi just wrapped year two of literacy testing kindergartners. The good news is that there were significant improvements on this year's test scores. Last year's results were an eye opener for the Pearl School District.
"That's when we realized that we were actually the state average," noted Janice Dukes, Pearl Early Childhood Education Center Coordinator. "And we went whoa, we need to do something about this because our students are entering Kindergarten and they're not prepared. They don't know their numbers. They don't know their colors or letters."
Pearl opened the Early Childhood Education Center as a 4 year old pre-k program. The goal is to give these kids a strong foundation before they enter kindergarten.
"People think that it's just play and that's right, it is play. But it's through that play that they're learning so many of those skills," said Dukes.
At four years old, the kids are learning several skills in these classrooms. Social skills and behavior in a classroom setting make it easier for them to focus and learn when they move on to kindergarten.
"You see that light bulb go off and you see a totally different child at the beginning than you see at the end," Dukes added. "And it's what teaching is all about and what education is all about."
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