Pre-Kindergarten Program Helps the Whole Family
When a four year old is resettled with his or her family, Kindergarten may seem light years away. IRC helps the family enter the preschooler into the state’s Pre-Kindergarten lottery, to increase the opportunity for this child to start the school learning process early.
The Georgia Pre-Kindergarten Program is a statewide program that is funded by the state lottery system intended to help four year olds prepare for Kindergarten and increase their school readiness. The Georgia pre-K program serves more than 82,000 four year olds across the state. In DeKalb County, where IRC mainly resettles refugees, each elementary school has at least one pre-K classrooms serving at total of 2,000 pre-K students year.
There are many more children eligible for the Pre-K program than there are spaces available, so the enrollment is determined by lottery.
For refugee children, Pre-K offers the chance to enter Kindergarten on a equal playing field with other American children. Last month, DeKalb County held their annual Pre-K Lottery drawing at each public elementary school. The IRC in Atlanta assisted 23 children who spoke six different languages, enter the drawing at five different schools. Out of this cohort, fourteen of fortunate enough to have their names selected in the lottery to attend the Pre-K program this fall 2011. For those who were not selected, IRC’s school specialist will work with families to search for other viable options and resources, in order to help prepare their four year old for Kindergarten.
For these preschoolers, access to Georgia Pre-K means the chance to gain social and interpersonal skills, English and literacy skills, communication skills, and the awareness of self and the world around them. They will be able to enter Kindergarten on the same level if not slightly above their American counterparts. Children will be attending the Pre-K for the entire school day.
For the Sharifi family, from Iran the benefits of the Pre-K system are twofold. With one child already attending Kindergarten and their second child entering Pre-K in August, the family now has the opportunity to have a two- income household. When given the exciting news that his youngest daughter would be starting Pre-K in the fall, the father said “Oh this is very good news, this will help us.”