800 Kent County Families Receive Learning Kits

Local organizations partner to prepare children for kindergarten and increase literacy levels

Eight hundred three-and-four-year-old children in Kent County received educational kits filled with activities on Tuesday, May 10, in hopes of better preparing them for kindergarten and increasing literacy levels in Kent County. These kits were created by early learning experts from Family Futures and Ready for School with input from members of the Grand Valley State University Psychology department.

According to a recent estimate from The Literacy Center of West Michigan, about 85,000 adults in West Michigan read below a fourth-grade level. Family Futures and Ready for School partnered to create the learning kits with the goal of making a positive impact on the future of that estimate.

“The first five years of a child’s life are the most critical in their development,” said Candace Cowling, Executive Director of Family Futures. “We’re providing children with resources like these kits now with the hope of those children thriving later in life.”

Recipients of the kits are members of Family Futures’ Connections program, a program available to all parents with children ages zero to five that gives them the knowledge and confidence to reduce the stresses of parenthood with community resource navigation and age-specific developmental screenings called ASQs (Ages and Stages Questionnaire).

“The learning kits are so much more than bags filled with activities,” said Donna Lowry, M.D. President and CEO of Ready for School. “The kits are giving families the tools they need to prepare their child for Kindergarten at home.”

Included in the kits are every item needed to complete the activities provided in the kit. Items include school supplies such as pencils, crayons, and paper, along with fun items to complete the experiments and activities inside such as dice, shaving cream, tweezers, Play-Doh, and more.

This is the third year of the learning kit project coordinated by Family Futures in partnership with Ready for School. This project is made possible by the Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage.


About Family Futures: Family Futures is a nonprofit that works to create communities in which all children achieve their full potential. We do that by supporting children and strengthening families just like yours. Our programs focus on children under age five. We work with parents to understand their children’s development, supporting them every step of the way and connecting them to resources when needed. When we all set up children and families for success, communities thrive.

About Ready for School: Holland/Zeeland based Ready for School is the West MI Affiliate of Reach Out and Read West Michigan, a national program that gives young children a foundation for success by incorporating books into pediatric care and encouraging families to read aloud together.

About Ready by Five: The Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage provides dedicated and sustainable funding for programs that improve the health, school readiness, and well-being of children under age five. It allows more children and families from across the community to participate in programs that are proven to increase their likelihood of success in school and beyond. Kent County voters overwhelmingly approved the Ready by Five Early Childhood Proposal in November 2018, making Kent County the first county in Michigan with tax dollars collected specifically to support early childhood programming.

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