City schools hosting ready fair for families

School readiness can be an important factor in a child’s education, with researchers finding that students who are unprepared for school often fall behind quickly and do not read as well as their peers by the end of third grade. A new Ohio law requires schools to hold back students who cannot pass the third grade reading test.

“The goal of the Ready Fair is to raise the awareness of the families, as well as the community of the need for children, all children, to be ready for kindergarten,” said Steve Whitacre, supervisor of early childhood education.

Kindergarten readiness means that children arrive at school with the social and academic skills that will help them be successful. Things like being able to recognize written letters, some basic number concepts, knowing some basic concepts of printed language and being able to identify colors are skills that will help students as they begin school, said Whitacre, who is also the principal of the Clark Center, where Springfield houses its preschool programs.

The fair will start at 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Clark Center, 1500 W. Jefferson St. It is free and open to parents of preschoolers and kindergartners in Springfield and Clark County.

Rebeka Draper attended last year’s fair with her son, Nolan Wiedeke, 4, and plans to attend again this year.

“It was really great, and it’s a wonderful place for parents of children getting ready to start preschool and kindergarten to come and get some information about where to start,” she said.

The city schools partners with the Clark County Educational Services Center and community organizations like the Clark County Combined Health District for the fair.

There will be about 20 different booths at the fair, many hosted by kindergarten teachers who will have suggestions of activities parents can do at home with their children over the summer to get ready for school. Other booths will be hosted by behavior specialists, physical and speech therapists and school psychologists who can talk about any ability concerns parents might have.

“There were a lot of booths with a lot of information on how to get your child ready and activities and all kinds of information you could take home,” said Draper.

There will also be prizes, such as a game or puzzle, for each family to take home.

Kindergarten today is much different from what parents might remember from their own experiences, said Whitacre.

“It is a full-day program, they go just like everyone else at school age,” he said. “The rigors of kindergarten are much different … some of the kindergarten curriculum is similar to what I learned in first grade.”

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