In our 97-year-history, each year at ReadyKids has been full of defining moments. 2018 is no exception. As we continue our day-to-day work with children and those who care for them, we also reflect on the accomplishments of the year. We feel so blessed to be a part of this wonderful community that has supported us over nearly a century!
Here are the ten fan favorite moments that you helped make happen at ReadyKids in 2018!
Our STAR Kids educators visit local preschools and early childhood centers with puppets. Their child-friendly lessons teach self-regulation, problem-solving and safe choices. In February, a STAR Kids educator relayed this story. It’s about how a lesson gave a child the words to voice her home life.
ReadySteps encourages parents as a child’s first and best teacher. Through early learning playgroups within their home communities, parents get a chance to learn more about child development. Playgroups happen in five neighborhoods through out Charlottesville, including Friendship Court. ReadySteps works closely with parents to help children have strong, positive and nurturing relationships.
InsideOut provides counseling to help kids and families who have experienced trauma begin the healing process. Shannon Noe, the program director for Youth Counseling, gives you a sneak peek into some of the stories our counselors hear from kids.
In Fiscal Year 2018, ReadyKids reached 8,836 local kids, families and early childhood educators. Our participants are more diverse than ever. We also continue to lower the cost per participant, even while we increase participant satisfaction.
Aspen is a black lab who has worked in over 200 therapy cases in InsideOut Counseling. Aspen provides a calming presence for kids who are exploring difficult topics. She is beloved not only among the children in our InsideOut program, but also by our staff!
ReadySteps and Healthy Families work with more than 175 participants who do not speak English as a first language. An important part of developing literacy skills is parents reading to their children. But, how can these parents do that in their native language? Many local donors gave to buy over 50 books in Dari, Farsi, and Spanish.
The events of August 2017 in Charlottesville were deeply upsetting within our community. Our counseling staff offered ways to talk with and support children to cope with the difficult thoughts, emotions and behaviors the one-year anniversary might bring up.
Throughout the year, donors like you have given thousands of diapers to our Healthy Families program. Healthy Families fosters nurturing family relationships for pregnant moms and safe environments for young children. No government benefits cover diapers. They are one of the top requests we get from families who are barely making ends meet. Thanks to you, if a new mom needs any size diaper, we can supply it for free!
In Fiscal Year 2018, 180 teens and parents called the ReadyKids Teen Counseling Crisis Hotline and over 3,500 people viewed information about the Hotline on Facebook. The ReadyKids Teen Counseling Program provides individual and family counseling to foster positive, nurturing family relationships to ensure that teens are healthy and safe.
In March, Virginia voted to join nine other states in requiring children under the age of 2 to be in rear-facing car seats. This came as a surprise to many participants and community members. It was the most shared story on our Facebook page this year. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children are 75% less likely to sustain serious injury in a rear-facing car seat.
What an eventful year it’s been! We can’t thank you enough for all you do to keep our programs running. We’re able to Open Doors to Bright Futures for Kids because of generous friends like you. We hope you continue to support ReadyKids in this new year!
Our ReadySteps program encourages parents as a child’s first and best teacher through early learning playgroups within five communities around Charlottesville. If there is one thing ReadySteps staff have learned in the process, it’s what kids like to play with.
This list contains seven toys that can be bought or made for less than $10, but still have huge educational opportunity. Five of them can be bought from local Charlottesville businesses or from Amazon Smile, where a percentage of your proceeds will come back to ReadyKids! The last two can be made at home with free or easy-to-find materials!
Everyone at ReadyKids is so grateful to be a part of this community. We wish you and yours a happy holiday season!
Five Gifts Under $10 Preschoolers will LOVE:
1. Play Food
The benefits of toy food for child development have been enumerated. Not only does playing with toy food help kids differentiate colors and shapes, it can also teach responsibility and healthy habits. Engaging in your child’s pretend play also builds your child’s language and social skills. A social skill is anything that creates interaction and communication between people where social rules are communicated in verbal and nonverbal ways. “Oh, what’s this you’ve brought me? A tomato and an eggplant? That looks delicious! Thank you!” In those four sentences you’ve taught your child two new words (tomato and eggplant), manners (Thank you!) and how to interact with others.
Every kid should play with stickers. It helps to develop the pincer grasp (think of the fingers you use to “pinch,” that’s the pincer grasp), which will be useful for learning how to hold a pencil and write. Plus, the possibilities are endless with stickers – you can buy any color or character sticker to match your child’s interests.
Sorting and stacking toys help young children to begin to understand math concepts, develop motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and creative thinking. And, they are so much fun!
4. Hopper Balls
Balls are a versatile gift that no matter what the age of the child, and can be used to develop gross motor skills. Gross motor skills are larger movements your child makes with his arms, legs, feet, or his entire body – like crawling, running, and jumping. Hopper balls are always a hit at ReadySteps playgroups.
While regular paint may strike fear into the heart of any parent who desires a clean house, tempera sticks are all of the fun of painting without any brushes to clean. Plus, they’re a unique way for little hands to develop fine motor and pre-writing skills. Fine motor skills involve smaller movements that occur in the wrists, hands, fingers, feet and toes.
Two Homemade Gifts That Provide Hours of Entertainment:
1. Puffy paint
ReadySteps makes this fun, textured paint to use during play groups. You can make it at home too with equal parts shaving cream and glue. Add a few drops of food coloring and mix together with a paintbrush for colorful 3D art!
In the first three years of life, kids learn less from what you say to them and more from what they experience through their senses (scent, touch, taste, sight, and hearing). One easy way to provide a lot of sensory experiences in a short period of time is to create a sensory bin. Find a large plastic box and fill it with materials that are interesting for a kid to touch. There are so many options! Rice, puff balls, beans, seeds, dried pasta, sand, rocks. Let the kids have fun scooping, pouring, and raking!
We’re smiling bashfully from ear to ear. We’ve gotten a lot of positive attention lately! Everyone at ReadyKids is passionate about the work they do, and we’re so glad our work contributes positively to our community.
Last week, our Executive Director, Jacki Bryant, was interviewed for the CBS19 Community Counts Segment. This week, ReadyKids’ hard working teams of InsideOut, ReadySteps, and Child Care Quality were featured on the local Charlottesville news last night in two separate stories.
InsideOut Receives Heal Charlottesville and Concert for Charlottesville Funds
We are proud to announce publicly that we are one of the proud recipients of donations from the Concert for Charlottesville and the Heal Charlottesville Fund of the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation. This summer, partly due to the trauma of the Aug. 12 rally, our wait list for trauma counseling climbed to over 54 kids. These funds from CACF will go towards hiring an additional trauma counselor to meet the needs of our city’s youth.
Click on the photos to be led to the CBS19 video with Shannon Noe, the program manager for our counseling programs.
ReadySteps and Child Care Quality Featured in Reporting on Affordable Childcare
The ReadySteps program would love to add the following books to their collection to use during our early learning playgroups. Used copies are welcome! If you have one of these books to share, please contact Shannon Banks, firstname.lastname@example.org
In a staff meeting last week, all 50 of ReadyKids employees gathered in a conference room on swively office chairs to share stories of successes and struggles. Photos of small children wearing backpacks as big as their bodies and beaming smiles appeared on a glowing screen.
The pictures were children who had completed the ReadySteps program and were headed to Kindergarten. ReadySteps encourages parents as a child’s first and best teacher through early learning playgroups within their home community.
Last year ReadySteps helped 20 to 25 families register for school in Charlottesville City and Albemarle County. To help families with this process, the ReadySteps staff wrote letters of support, assisted parents with paperwork, and connected families to free medical and dental resources. Additionally, through participation in ReadySteps playgroups, these children learned key socialization skills, a routine, new songs and were exposed to new books. Caregivers learned how to support their child’s learning through play. Caregivers also gained confidence in understanding their child’s developmental milestones, which helped parents have more realistic expectations for their child.
Sending a child off to kindergarten is a bittersweet milestone. ReadySteps walks with parents along that journey so their kids are ready to learn.