Thirty-three Students Participate in Inaugural Kindergarten Countdown Program

Pretzels, paper, stickers, swings, chalk, cookies, books and backpacks; what do all of these items have in common ?  These items, combined with your generous financial support, were part of what made the inaugural Kindergarten Countdown program at Mary Raber Elementary School a resounding success!

On July 25, 2016 thirty-three soon to be kindergartners walked into a classroom for the first time as they took part in Kindergarten Countdown, a collaborative program between United Way of Whitley County and Whitley County Consolidated Schools.  Kindergarten Countdown targets incoming Kindergarten students and works with them to better prepare them for being in a classroom all day; the majority of the students never having attended preschool or participated in any structured learning environment.

Between July 25, 2016 and August 5, 2016 these students came to school each day and participated in circle time, story time, interactive play, small group activities, ate lunch, played at recess and took part in a variety of other activities just as they would do once the school year began.  There were three Kindergarten Countdown classrooms, each with eleven students, which allowed for the teachers to provide as much attention as possible to each student.

On the final day of the program, parents and family were invited to see the progress the children had made over their two weeks with Kindergarten Countdown.  Before leaving, each child also received a backpack for school filled with the supplies they would need for Kindergarten, as well as four new early reading books, including The Night Before Kindergarten, by Natasha Wing.

Parents have provided some wonderful feedback about their experience and their child’s experience with Kindergarten Countdown, including the following comments:

“It helped ease my child into kindergarten making it easier for her to handle all the distractions and stress that come with so many new things in a new environment.”

“I like the whole idea behind it. Helping kids get prepared for school. All day kindergarten is a big adjustment for most kids so this helped with the transition. And you made it convenient for us working parents by providing transportation. Thank you.”

“My son was happy and excited to have made friends with other kids.”

“It was a great experience and very helpful for our child that never went to preschool or a babysitter. We were worried about him starting school, and he had never been in that type of environment. Thank you so much for helping our nerves as parents for a successful couple weeks from your program relating to a successful start of kindergarten.”

“Excellent program that I am very thankful we were able to participate in.”

The Kindergarten Countdown teachers also noted definite benefits in the area of positive behavioral changes that took place for students as they participated in the two-week long program.  Now, having been inside a classroom and having become familiar with being at school all day, these students will be able to make the difficult and sometimes scary transition into Kindergarten, allowing them to be more prepared to learn on their first day of school.

United Way of Whitley County and Whitley County Consolidated Schools would like to thank the following sponsors and donors for partnering with us to bring Kindergarten Countdown to our community. We know this would never have been possible without your gracious generosity !!

Indiana Association of United Ways, Community Foundation of Whitley County, Fort Wayne Metals, Five Star Distributing, Jana Leitch, PDQ Workholding, Dave and Barb Bilger, Indiana Materials Processing, Horizon Bank, Reelcraft Industries, The HANDS Foundation, Ralph Bailey, James and Kathy Heuer, and Candy Bower.

Thank you for your financial support and your belief in the benefits Kindergarten Countdown has to offer our community’s youngest students !


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