Any experienced parent or early childhood educator knows that the best toys aren’t toys at all. The best toys are average household objects. Keys, cardboard boxes, television remotes are all far more interesting to kids for their play possibilities than the toys in their room.

The same can be said for our fall appeal envelope! The envelope is 100% recyclable as a #5 plastic. But before you recycle it, upcycle for some at home fun with kids. You can do this craft right now with nothing more than a picture and permanent marker. Reimagining a family photo is great for expanding thinking skills. Drawing also helps to develop fine motor skills, and removing and realigning the family photo within the envelope improves visual motor integration.

Drawing on an envelope may look like a silly, easy thing to do. But sometimes it’s the silliest, easiest things that we remember the most.

upcycle plastic envelopes

Preschool Graduation!

Good luck to our preschoolers who headed to Kindergarten last week!

Have you heard about the Early Education Task Force, spearheaded by the United Way-TJA? ReadyKids is pleased to be a part of this endeavor, working closely with local preschools, families, and the Task Force to get our community’s kids Ready for School. Check out these links for more information on how this group is making a difference:

United Way-TJA 

Local schools and early childhood services partner –

State grant boosts public private preschool effort –

Move from waiting lists to preschool classrooms –

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90.3% (1)You know the expression, No man is an island? Well, at ReadyKids, No kid is an island. Because, behind every single kid we work with, there is an actively engaged network of people—a community. Our community, and yours.

Our staff works hard, but we don’t do it alone. We’ve got a team of partners, supporters, volunteers, donors, and so many more who come together to improve the lives of our kids. We have longstanding partnerships with some amazing area nonprofits, local government, law enforcement, day care centers, schools, families and individuals.

For example, did you know that Habitat for Humanity provides us with space and support so we can bring pre-school like learning opportunities and family support to one Albemarle County neighborhood? That same ReadyKids program—ReadySteps—partners with the City of Promise, the Women’s Initiative and PB & J Fund to bring families resources, skills and experiences they would not otherwise receive.

Our Victims of Child Abuse (VOCA) program helps form the backbone of an alliance which fights to prevent child abuse and neglect in Central Virginia. The alliance includes several Departments of Social Services, the Sexual Assault Resource Agency (SARA), Court Appointed Child Advocates (CASA), the Foothills Child Advocacy Center (FCAC), Victim Witness Services and the Shelter for Help in Emergency and law enforcement, amongst others.

Our Healthy Families program works hand-in-hand with CHiP and REAL Dads works with inmates inside the Charlottesville/Albemarle Regional Jail. Early learning programs, like STAR Kids team up with Head Start and, with the help of dozens of volunteers, the Play Partners program brings early literacy activities to area kids. These volunteers, child care centers and home-based day cares are all part of our family.

Our Teen Counselors couldn’t do their jobs without the help of area schools and hundreds of local child care providers invite the ReadyKids Child Care Quality team into their homes and classrooms in order to create the best possible experiences for our little ones. There are so many more partners (we’ve probably forgotten some), including Charlottesville Radio Group and Charlottesville Family, whose time and efforts have helped us get the word out, the United Way, which provides funding and volunteers every single year, not to mention long-term partners like UVa, Book Baskets, Kiwanis and the Paramount.

baby hand

Today, we want to show you that no nonprofit is an island. No kid is alone. Today, we give you, not ReadyKids, but a

community—a family—without whom none of this would be possible. To you—our partners, supporters, families and kids —we say thank you.


Ready to join the family?





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Play Partners Volunteer

Read stories and use interactive and fun activities, songs and finger-plays to engage preschool children in the classroom and home childcare setting, and help children develop age-appropriate vocabulary, cognitive skills and get ready for school. Play Partners volunteers are paired up in teams to visit the same child care provider and the children enrolled in their care, providing early literacy sessions, for one hour a week throughout the program year. (sessions run from October – May). Generally, most sessions are scheduled Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday mornings. To get started, contact Christy Arrington Early Learning Program Manager at at or call (434)296-4118, ext. 225. Visit the Play Partners page for more information.

Play Partners Volunteer Requirements:

  • A love of children and interest in seeing them grow and learn.
  • Commitment of approximately two hours each week from October through May with flexibility as needed.
  • Willingness to submit to complete ReadyKids volunteer application process which includes background checks.
  • Complete a 2-hour Play Partners training (flexible scheduling available).

Refer Someone to Happy Families(1)

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dad-909510It was no surprise to us to learn that Eddie Harris was nominated to be one of Charlottesville’s Distinguished Dozen this year. His work in our community is far-reaching, with lasting effects.

In his role as Fatherhood Specialist for our REAL Dads program, Eddie partners closely with incarcerated fathers and their families to support them through some enormous challenges. But his work doesn’t stop there. Even after incarceration, he keeps up with his dads, provides them with much-needed resources and coaches them as they rebuild and strengthen their relationships.

Why REAL Dads?

In the US, more than one in 100 adults is incarcerated, leaving behind more than 2 million children. What happens to their kids when those parents are not around? According to Jeremy Travis, author of a 2014 National Academy of Sciences study on the rising rate of incarceration in the United States, “There are higher rates of homelessness among families when the father is in prison, poor developmental outcomes for the children in those families, and […] greater family instability.

Through counseling and coaching, the Fatherhood Specialist provides dads with the skills and resources they need to change their lives, and their families’, for the better. By giving fathers in our community, along with their families, the chance to break the cycle caused by incarceration, REAL Dads Opens Doors to Bright Futures for Kids. Want to learn more about the program?

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Sources:, NPR

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A REAL Dad It can be tough to talk to kids. From toddlers to teens, their language skills develop, but they’re not always easy for adults to relate to–or even to understand. Which is why it’s important to develop a relationship built on support and to seek out those skills to give your kid the confidence they’ll need out in the world.

So, you want to be a REAL Dad? Follow these three tips and bring out your inner nurturer:

  • Be encouraging. Teach your kid confidence and it can last them a lifetime.
  • Listen. And then tell them that you’ve heard. It’s amazing how reasonable a toddler can be if they feel you get what they’re saying.
  • Teach, not criticize. Remember that every mistake can lead to a learning opportunity.

400px-Dad_and_daughter_fishing_young_girl_learns_to_fishGot young kids? Here are some other ways to connect :

  • Read to your child
  • Tell stories
  • Recite nursery rhymes or jingles
  • Read environmental print (e.g., road signs or brand names on food containers)
  • Ask your child about her day. Conversation with adults helps children learn new words and practice creating a narrative — both linked to better reading skills.
  • Check out books of photography or art and talk about the pictures
  • When you are doing household projects, describe what you are doing to your child
  • Involve your child in everyday writing tasks like shopping lists or paying bills
  • Create games that use letters, words, or problem solving






Sources:, Reading Rockets

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Runaway HotlineWonder how you can lend a hand in preventing teen homelessness? Our first step, as a community, is to learn to better serve youth in general, rather than putting them into boxes. According to the National Runaway Safeline, it’s often a matter of perception. Here’s their list of talking points about runaway and homeless youth to help you get the word out–and to help us all understand.

  • They’re not ‘bad kids,’ they are typically good kids caught in bad situations.
  • These teens are not limited to urban environments. There are runaway and homeless youth in every community, including our own.
  • They often do not look like the stereotype of an adult homeless person. They often try to hide their situation and therefore the issue remains invisible.
  • Young people on the street are often perceived as ‘bad kids’ if/ when they engage in risky behaviors. The reality is that many of these young people do not engage in these behaviors until they are already on the streets, and only do so for survival or to cope.
  • Rather than taking it into their own hands, you can help runaway and homeless youth by connecting them with services that are evidence-based.
  • There is a positive social return on investment for those willing to invest in ending youth homelessness. Catching a young person before they turn to a lifetime on the streets saves society money in social programs and medical expenses.
  • This is a solvable problem.
  • Have questions or need help? Call or text us any time at: 434.972.7233

Source: National Runaway Safeline

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