Jan. 5, 2015 - Nearly Half of Marshall County Incoming Students Not Ready For Kindergarten

December 12, 2014

FOR RELEASE on 1/5/15



Nearly Half of Marshall County Incoming

Students Not Ready For Kindergarten


            BENTON, KY – According to a recent report by the Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics, only 55.6% of students entering the Marshall County school system tested ready for Kindergarten in the fall of 2013. The standard, as outlined by the Governor’s Task Force on Early Childhood Development and Education, includes five developmental areas: approaches to learning; health and physical well-being; language and communication development; social and emotional development; and cognitive and general knowledge.


            Repeated studies have shown children who start school behind tend to stay behind, with the gap growing wider and wider each school year. By ensuring a child meets the criteria for school readiness, parents give their students a foundation for continued educational success.


            While programs for preschool-aged children can be expensive, there are many cost-free programs and activities available for families in our community. In fact, studies have continually proven that one of the best ways to prepare children for a lifetime of learning is regularly visiting a public library. The Kentucky Early Childhood Standards’ “Parent Guide” suggests taking children to the library to expose them to different types of books and stories, but according to Kristi Tucker, Director of the Marshall County Public Library, the library can do so much more.


            “The Marshall County Public Library is committed to providing a learning environment for people of all ages,” says Tucker. “Not only do we provide a large collection of books and videos covering nearly all, if not every one of the early childhood standards, but we also provide computers and tablets loaded with fun and educational games geared towards preschoolers and early elementary school students. Additionally, each of our branches offers a weekly Story Hour, which allows preschool-age children an opportunity to explore and learn while developing important social skills and classroom behaviors.”


            Story Hour programs provide a wide array of activities for children, including stories, crafts, and exposure to art and music. Children’s Librarians create opportunities for exploration of science, math, and emotions while teaching basic skills, such as letter recognition, counting, and how to take care of our bodies. 


            “For many kids, Story Hour is their first introduction to classroom culture,” says Beth Kerrick, Children’s Librarian at the Marshall County Public Library @Benton and former elementary school teacher. “In addition to being exposed to great stories and new ideas, they’re learning how to pay attention and follow directions. Without these skills, students are ill-prepared to engage in the new learning environment of kindergarten.”


            The early literacy benefits of library usage have been well documented. A recent report on the role of public libraries in children’s literacy development by Dr. Donna Celano and Dr. Susan B Neuman found that preschool reading programs in libraries encourage children to spend significant amounts of time with books, which is vital for reading achievement. Many early literacy foundations, from the National Center for Learning Disabilities’ Get Ready to Read to Reading is Fundamental suggests exposing children to libraries early in life to foster a love of reading.


            “A love of books and reading is the foundation on which successful students are built,” says Kerrick. “A child who is eager to read is a child who is eager to learn.”


            According to Tucker, one doesn’t need years of academic study to prove the importance of libraries and reading when it comes to learning success. They simply need to spend some time watching the young patrons of the library grow up.


            “In a small community like Marshall County, we’re able to know our patrons and track their progress. Time and again we see toddlers who wobbled up to the desk with their first board book clutched proudly to their chests grow into students topping their class in Accelerated Reader points and later graduating with honors. We celebrate those successes not only as an achievement for the student and their family, but also for the library and our community. The most important element for student success is parental involvement, but beyond that, it takes all of us working together to create an atmosphere that promotes education and learning. We strive to create a community of lifelong learners, because we know that an educated and curious community is a community where good things happen.”


            The Marshall County Public Library consists of three branches - @Benton, @Calvert City, and @Hardin – and a Bookmobile service. Story Hour is offered at 10 am on Tuesdays at @Calvert City, at 1 pm on Wednesdays at @Benton, and at 1 pm on Thursdays at @Hardin. The @Benton branch also offers Mother Goose Story Hour for three-year-olds on Wednesdays at 10 am. To learn more about Story Hour or any of the other programs and services offered by the library, visit them online at www.marshallcolibrary.org, or call (270)527-9969.