Write your first name, recognize numbers, know the sounds of the alphabet, pay attention and take turns…the list of kindergarten readiness tasks can be daunting. Summer success programs can be key to help kids prep for school, but when COVID-19 locked down the country last year, educators had to innovate.

Would a fully virtual readiness program work with four and five-year-olds? The Ohio State University decided to try it and researchers found that it was successful in theory and in practice. Their data showed that it was feasible to operate, it was popular with teachers and parents and it had success in teaching children literacy skills, early math skills and emotional regulation.

“The promising evidence is that a virtual problem like this can succeed, despite the challenges,” said Rebecca Dore, lead author of the study and senior research associate at Ohio State’s Crane Center for Early Childhood Research and Policy.

Ninety-one families enrolled in the four-week virtual program last year and received storybooks plus a computer tablet preloaded with educational videos. It also included weekly individual video interactions between teachers and children and a weekly video or phone meeting with parents. The final result? Seventy-seven percent of families finished the program and teachers found that kids were engaged for more than half the lesson 90% of the time. Participating children were tested before and after the program and the final data showed an upswing in all testing categories.

Although life is returning to normal, the success of this virtual program is promising for other scenarios. Kids who live in very rural areas may not have ready access to resources and kids who must stay home due to extended illness could certainly benefit from future online offerings. Technology for the win!

––Sarah Shebek

Featured image courtesy of andrii Sinenkyi /Pixabay 

 

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