Beginning a new school year and routine is stressful for any family, but for low-income families with added stressors, it can be especially overwhelming. This year, in partnership with the Somersworth Early Childhood Coalition, we launched the Somersworth Ready Together initiative, with the goal of helping all families better prepare their children for kindergarten. As part of the program, teachers visit families of incoming kindergartners in their homes, before the school year starts.
During these visits, teachers found that the biggest concerns among the families were not academic, but logistical, like how to make sure their kids could get breakfast and lunch at school. In fact, 54% of the students in the Somersworth district qualify for free and reduced lunch. This new approach is a big contrast to the typical Open House, when families all come in the night before school starts, already nervous and anxious. There is so much information to share and not everyone has an opportunity to meet with the teacher and talk about their child’s individual needs in that short time. It’s an overwhelming experience for everyone. The hope is that this increased comfort level from day one will make the whole year easier for everyone, ultimately resulting in a child who is better able to succeed in school.