South Carolina organization helps students catch up on COVID-19 slide

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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) — Students who were toddlers at the height of the pandemic are heading into kindergarten, and SC First Steps is working to close the gap with young children who have fallen behind.

Beth Moore, director of communications at SC First Steps, said it was the group’s biggest year of child development for the organization which has been helping children succeed in school since 1994.

“The past few years have been particularly difficult for families,” she said. “The pandemic has been stressful for parents. We know this has created social isolation. Children didn’t have those connections they needed to build their brains. We know from early data that many children are late when they start kindergarten. »

The state received more than $950,000 from the South Carolina Department of Education and the South Carolina Department of Social Services. Moore said this has allowed SC First Steps to expand its Countdown to Kindergarten program statewide.

The aim is to inspire children aged 4-5 to learn and prepare them for the school year ahead. First Steps will offer a wide range of programs that involve families working with elementary teachers one-on-one for five weeks during the summer.

Moore said the group worked with the South Carolina Department of Education to develop a description of school readiness in 2015. The report includes 60 steps for incoming kindergarten students.

“We really see that a lot of kids are behind in a lot of skills and abilities,” Moore said. “So it’s not just early reading and mathematical thinking skills, but also social and emotional skills – their ability to follow simple rules and instructions to resolve conflict with their peers. That’s the kind of things that are essential to getting ready for kindergarten and being excited and ready to learn.

This year, SC First Steps is partnering with the EdVenture Children’s Museum of Myrtle Beach to host events aimed at connecting families to community resources, providing school supplies and providing helpful tips that will help them prepare for the next school year.

“It’s especially important that we’re there to make sure families and caregivers have the resources they need to be their child’s first and best teacher, so that when they show up for kindergarten on their first day, they are excited about school, and they’re ready to learn,” Moore said.

Their first event at EdVenture in Myrtle Beach will be in August.

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