Why does it matter?
Early childhood is the single most crucial time in a child’s educational development. The brain of young children is specifically designed to take in information. Neglecting that brain growth during this period can have long-standing ramifications. Social, emotional, and technical growth all occur at this young age. Stressful environments and nonengagement not only hinder children’s ability to acclimate to new social conditions but inhibit their ability to learn new information. Without proper care, attention, and engagement in their early years, children have less chance to perform well in school. Those who receive quality early care do much better. Creating, and fostering, healthy social and learning environments for young children is necessary to see them succeed in their futures.
Percent of Children Ready for Kindergarten
Pensacola Metro Area (Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties)
The percentage of children that tested high enough on their screening to be considered "ready" for kindergarten.
Where are we now?
Escambia’s preterm birth and low birth weight rates are higher than the state average as of 2020. Enrollment into Voluntary Prekindergarten Education (VPK) programs in Escambia County has decreased steeply from 2019 to 2021. While the number of children ready for kindergarten increased in 2020 it fell back down in 2021, suggesting that some attention has been paid to early learning, but external factors have interfered. An increase in attention to support from prenatal through the early years is worth our continued focus.
How is it measured?
Kindergarten readiness measures the ability of a child to succeed when they begin formal schooling. This is not solely related to the child, but also measures the steps a parent has taken to ensure their child has a proper start to their educational career.
- Low Birth Weight: “Birth Dashboard,” Florida Department of Health, 2021, retrieved from http://www.flhealthcharts.com.
- Preterm Birth Rate: “Birth Dashboard,” Florida Department of Health, 2021, retrieved from http://www.flhealthcharts.com.
- VPK Assessment: “Fall 2019 Compared to Fall 2020 Florida Kindergarten Readiness Screener (FLKRS) District Results,” Florida Department of Education, 2021, retrieved from https://www.fldoe.org.
- VPK Program Enrollment: “Voluntary Prekindergarten Estimating Conference - Conference Packet. Florida Office of Economic and Demographic Research, August 12, 2021,” Florida Office of Economic and Demographic Research, 2021, retrieved from http://edr.state.fl.us.
What call to action is linked to this indicator?
Strengthening our resolve to be an Early Learning–focused community could only be a good thing. Seeking answers about the lack of access to proper prenatal care along with support and nutrition, ensuring that every young child is raised in a home where they are spoken to, played with and read to, and monitoring the success of programs that offer solutions to the needs of young families are steps that we should take as a community.