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Preparing for Success: Lee County’s Excel by 5 Program - Parents-kids.com

By: Carrie Partridge Published on 30 April 2013

The first five years of a child’s life establish the groundwork for her emotional, social, and academic future. Although this may sound like a lot of pressure on a preschooler and most certainly for a toddler or infant, Mississippi parents in 27 communities, now including Lee County, have a valuable partner to help them navigate these formative years.

Purpose of Excel by 5

According to Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, “Lee County has thousands of children from birth to age five, but only a minority are in a structured preschool program of any kind.” What happens to the majority of these children who were not in a preschool program before they entered kindergarten? Do they start off their first year in public school already behind? Unfortunately, this is likely the case, and once they’re behind it is difficult for them to catch up. Too often kindergarteners and first graders are held back so they can get caught up with state expectations. Hoping to not only decrease the numbers of young learners being held back in their first years of formal education but to ultimately decrease dropout rates, Lee County’s new Excel by 5 program is working to educate and empower parents, community members, and childcare professionals on how to better prepare our children for school. For optimal learning to occur, growth in other areas including social, emotional, and physical must also be achieved. Therefore, in addition to Early Care and Education, Excel by 5 has three other focus groups including: Community Involvement, Parent and Family Support, and Health.

Excel by 5 Reaches Lee County

After a group project in the Jim Ingram Leadership Institute spurred CREATE Foundation’s Beverly Williams and others to seek candidacy for Lee County as an Excel by 5 community, the state board accepted the application in October 2012. So what does this mean for Lee County? There will be four annual events, which will be promoted through TV, radio, newspaper, and the schools so the community will know how to get involved. Just in April, there were meetings held in three separate Lee County schools with the purpose of informing parents and the local community about how they can help prepare children up to five years old to be ready for kindergarten. The next event will take place before the new school year and will most likely include partnering with United Way in their backpack giveaway for students. There will also be a family event scheduled in the fall, and a health fair focusing on kids from birth to five is in the works.

The organization is preparing to write a grant with the intentions of securing additional resource material for a special new preschool section at the library. In addition to the Lee County Library, Excel by 5 also plans on adding resources to other local learning centers including the Family Resource Center on Magazine Street and the Early Beginnings Resource Center. Williams pointed out that Lee County already has resources available, but a lot of people are unaware of what they are and how to access them. Excel by 5 will partner with already existing organizations in the community to reinforce their efforts as well as generating more awareness.

The goal is to reach children in this pivotal time in their lives to equip them to be lifelong learners before this opportunity is lost.

Suggestions for Parents

  • Read daily to your children, even when they’re babies.
  • Tell stories and talk to your children to encourage conversation and increase their vocabularies.
  • Prepare your children to meet their own needs. By the time they go to kindergarten children should be able to put on shoes and jackets and also work buttons, zippers, and snaps.
  • Children should be able to recognize shapes, colors, numbers 1-20, and the alphabet by the time they are ready for kindergarten so provide them with opportunities to learn through games, educational shows, and toys.
  • Teach children how to respect others and take turns talking.

For More Information: To learn more about Excel by 5 in Lee County contact Beverly Williams This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and check out the state website www.excelby5.com.

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