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Countdown Fair Aims to Help Incoming Kindergartners in Louisville Get Ready For School

Steven Depolo

An event today in Louisville aims to ease the potentially daunting transition into school for kindergartners, but it's just one step families can take to prepare kids for the first day of class.During today's Kindergarten Countdown Fair at Slugger Field, incoming kindergartners will get free admission to the Louisville Bats game—and the incoming students and families will have access to free health screenings, immunizations and other community resources.Kevin Nix, the director of JCPS’ early childhood services, said the event is “one stop shopping” for school resources.“It relieves the apprehension of attending school for the first time,” he said.  For kids, anything to quell the anxiety that may accompany the first day of school can be useful, Nix said. For families and educators, events like this are more about preparation.On the academic side, about half of last school year's JCPS kindergartners entered school ready to tackle their class material.JCPS officials are working on increasing that percentage from 52 percent to 75 percent, he added. “That’s a pretty lofty goal,” he said.  “But that’s where we want to get to.”Statewide, 49 percent of students are ready for kindergarten, Nix said.Children who attend Early Childhood Education centers have an advantage in attaining the skills necessary for being considered kindergarten ready, Nix said, but those programs are not only path to preparedness.“Parents are absolutely the first teacher of the child,” he said.Daily, seemingly miniscule events, Nix said, are imperative to cultivating a readiness children need to be prepared for the first day of school—like talking with an infant, counting acorns in the front yard, pointing out colors on cereal boxes in the grocery store.Jefferson County Public Schools offer a readiness guide for families that aims to visualize what students need to know to be considered ready for kindergarten, Nix said.Here is that visual.The Kindergarten Countdown Fair will be Tuesday beginning at 5:30 p.m. at Slugger Field.  Incoming kindergarten students and an adult will also receive free admission to the Louisville Bats game.

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.