Smart Beginnings is a systems-building program of the New River Valley Regional Commission focused on improving kindergarten readiness in the region. By convening area leaders from both the public and private sector, collecting and sharing data, fostering public awareness, and improving investment in early childhood infrastructure, Smart Beginnings aims to support schools, the community, and families in preparing children for success in school.
The links between early childhood and kindergarten readiness, and strong communities and local economies are undeniable; early childhood education is emerging as an issue of major importance to localities across the United States. Children who start kindergarten ready to learn are more likely to perform on grade level by the third grade and are more likely to graduate high school and enter the workforce as productive and healthy citizens. By following the mantra of “ready schools, ready families, ready communities,” Smart Beginnings is working to ensure the children in the NRV receive the support they need to succeed in school and in life.
Smart Beginnings NRV is currently focused on launching the Reading Hour program for the fall of 2017. Reading Hour is a program that supports children, parents, and childcare centers by providing opportunities for one-on-one reading time every week. By reading to children, Reading Hour volunteers are helping build the strong foundation necessary for success later in life. Reading hour supports families and childcare centers by providing children with enhanced exposure to books and reading, helping to prepare them for kindergarten and later academic success, and helping to get kids excited about reading. In fact, 98% of children who complete the Smart Beginnings Reading Hour program show improvement in early childhood literacy indicators, such as enthusiasm and interest in reading.