Countdown to Kindergarten (CTK) is a First Steps program based on other successful school transition models from around the country. Its goals are:
- to increase the successful transition of South Carolina’s most at-risk children into the K-12 school system;
- to increase parent involvement in the early grades (particularly in hard-to-reach communities), when children’s learning is foundational for life success; and
- to increase public awareness of the importance of school readiness and provide ways for parents and communities to impact children’s early school success.
Home Visitation. Teachers make six visits over the summer to the homes of participating students and families. Visits are hour-long sessions whereby children and families are introduced to actual materials used in kindergarten and are given a Kindergarten Transition Toolkit (backpack filled with books, puzzles, clay, blocks, floor mats, etc.) to keep.
Learning Celebration. The last visit is a “field trip” to the school where the child will attend class in the fall. Early in August a CTK Celebration is planned to host the children and their families to a meal and celebration of their child’s accomplishment. We build on their excitement by providing additional school supplies and books for the children and help the parents learn about other community resources to help their children excel in their efforts.
Public Awareness. Throughout the summer, First Steps releases tips to statewide media to help parents and caregivers get children ready for kindergarten.
Each of the 4 York County School Districts identify the children that are in need of the CTK Program and typically rely on Kindergarten enrollments into Title I schools in their respective districts. Partner school districts place as many CTK children as possible in their home visitor’s classroom for kindergarten, thereby building upon the teacher-child and parent-teacher relationships built over the summer.