All is fierce concentration on the face of 4-year-old Lily Wrubelski, seated at a computer terminal alongside her father Brandon, matching yips and yaps, squeaks and howls, mewling and woofing she hears to the animals she’s seeing on the screen.
For Lily and other children on the evening of April 26 at Auburn’s Arthur Jacobsen Elementary, it was all about fun.
Little did Lily and all the other kids there know it was all coming courtesy of a grant from the Washington State Department of Early Learning, making advanced software from Neuropath Learning Institute available to preschool providers and parents in the Kent and Auburn school districts interested in getting those young minds ready for school.
Children ages 4-6 got free online access to the Accelerating Young Minds learning game and a free ongoing subscription. Families and interested parties came to learn more and hear from state and local education leaders including Randy Dorn, OSPI State Superintendent, and Bob Hamilton with the Department of Early Learning.
Right now more than 50 percent of all children in Washington State do not enter kindergarten ready to learn. In their first five years of life, many children have only achieved two, three or four years of normal language growth. When they enter kindergarten behind their classmates, often they stay behind for years to come. The Accelerating Young Minds Pre-K Partnership closes learning gaps and prepares young children to become real students the first day of school. Preschool students will explore online learning programs that stimulate social, emotional and cognitive growth.
The Accelerating Young Minds Pre-K Partnership is a joint venture of the Auburn and Kent School Districts, together serving more than 42,000 students in south King County.
“This is all about kids being ready for school so that they can get the most out of the resources available to them,” said Dr. Kip Herren, Auburn School District superintendent. “If we can use new technologies to affordably prepare a wider number of preschool students for learning, we will increase their chances for success in school, and subsequently in life.”
“The research is clear,” said Dr. Edward Lee Vargas, Kent School District superintendent. “Every dollar spent in early childhood education saves $9-10 down the road. This is a unique partnership between two districts and we are very excited.”