Ready To Start Program Bridges Gap To Kindergarten


The first day of school can be overwhelming especially for five-year olds who haven’t been through preschool.  

That’s why several Title One schools are opening the doors for “Ready to Start.”  

It’s hard to believe Colette has a hard time with words. 

“My little one, she has expressive language disorder….so speaking, sometimes she stutters,” Keyshauna Lund said.

That is why Colette’s mom, Keyshauna Lund, says her daughter needs an extra push. 

“Interacting with other kids, teachers asking her questions, gives her that voice. That she wouldn’t have had in Kindergarten, if it hadn’t have been for Ready to Start,” Lund said. 

“For these last five weeks, we’ve had Ready to Start, which is a program for kids who are really going to kindergarten in the fall, but they’ve never had an opportunity for an early childhood or preschool program,” Sioux Falls Public Schools Early Childhood Coordinator Valerie Peters said. 

Some of the skills these soon-to-be kindergartners have been working on include making patterns and practicing their letters, all before the big first day. 

In Sioux Falls alone, as many as 200 children are on the waiting list to go to preschool. 
All of these students were selected from that list. 

“They didn’t have the opportunity to get in because we were full. So we give them this opportunity to get a jump start on kindergarten, so they can learn those skills for kindergarten,” Peters said. 

Lund was nervous Colette might be behind. 

“That was the biggest thing I was worried about…and now she’s one of the most expressive kids in her class,” Lund said. 

She’s one of 90 children getting ready to graduate from Ready Start in Sioux Falls.

“We’re hoping to build leaders in those kindergarten classrooms,” Peters said. 

Colette says she’s ready. 

“I’m ready for kindergarten,” Colette said. 

“That’s what I enjoy. She’s getting that push. She’s going to be that leader,” Lund said. 

A leader, ready for the first day of school, thanks to some practice. 

The program costs around $500 per student, and is funded by the United Way. Ready to Start serves mostly lower-income children who show a need for some extra help in Sioux Falls. There are no out-of-pocket costs for families. 

Ready to Start programs are also in Harrisburg, Tea Area, Canton, Lennox/Worthing, and McCook Central School districts.  

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
This story was updated to clarify that the program is funded by the United Way so there is no cost to families.

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