EarlyStories remembers well what it’s like to drum up school stories during the summer. Typically, education journalists focus on administrative changes and budget matters. That’s why it was nice to see Gregory Trotter of the Springfield News Leader delve deep into an important early childhood initiative in the state of Missouri. The state lags in its support for early childhood education, ranking 33rd out of the 38 states that provide funding for preschool programs, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research.
Trotter’s story described “Kindergarten Camp,” as “a Community Partnership of the Ozarks summer program and a pivotal part of a new federally funded community initiative designed to prepare more children for kindergarten.”
The story pointed out that about 20 percent of children in the Springfield Missouri area show up to kindergarten ill-prepared for learning, and described (by visiting the program and spending time in it) how the various lessons help get children ready for what they will experience when they enroll in school.
It’s important to see such efforts highlighted in the state if Missouri at a time when the state’s new education commissioner is touting the benefits of early childhood education. Journalists play an important role in describing how programs such as Kindergarten Camp work. How do they help kids get ready for school and why are they important? Is it the best use of public money in tough financial times? How well run are they and is the staff well trained and prepared? Kindergarten camps exist in many states, and are often well worth a visit and a story.