Countdown to Kindergarten (CTK) is a First Steps program based on other successful school transition models from around the country. Its goals are:

• to increase the successful transition of South Carolina’s most at-risk children into the K-12 school system;
• to increase parent involvement in the early grades (particularly in hard-to-reach communities), when children’s learning is foundational for life success; and
• to increase public awareness of the importance of school readiness and provide ways for parents and communities to impact children’s early school success.

Program Components

Home Visitation. Teachers make six visits over the summer to the homes of participating students and families. Visits are hour-long sessions whereby children and families are introduced to actual materials used in kindergarten and are given a Kindergarten Transition Toolkit (backpack filled with books, puzzles, clay, blocks, floor mats, etc.) to keep.

Learning Celebration. The last visit is a “field trip” to the school where the child will attend class in the fall. EdVenture Children’s Museum in Columbia also hosts a statewide CTK Celebration each summer.

Public Awareness. Throughout the summer, First Steps releases tips to statewide media to help parents and caregivers get children ready for kindergarten.

During the Summer of 2014, Lancaster County served 100 children enrolled in Kindergarten at 8 elementary schools throughout Lancaster County. Certified Kindergarten Teachers visit families and students during the summer prior to the student entering kindergarten. Participants are identified by the School Principal and the Kindergarten Teachers. Change in student and parent interaction is measured before and after participation in the CTK program. Funds for 2013-14 reflect a portion of dollars spent for the program during the Summer of 2014 due to our fiscal year structure.

Why CTK Works:

Kindergarten teachers reported that CTK children have greater familiarity, confidence and excitement about attending kindergarten, and that CTK parents are more involved in school and more likely to contact them. CTK parents felt a stronger connection with their child’s teacher, and saw in their children increased confidence and excitement about school. Teachers also said the CTK experience had a significant positive impact on their professional practice.

“I feel that this program has helped all three (3) girls understand that learning is important. All of them are excited about attending school this year. As for the adults in our home, we have all learned and benefited from of the handouts provided to us by the teacher. Our family (everybody) has realized that teaching the children will take participation from all of us.”
Marti Walls, Custodial Grandparent of CTK Participant

“This program has helped Maria see what she will be learning. She has gotten to get acquainted with her teacher beforehand so she won’t be scared to come to school. She has learned to read a few things. She has become excited about learning new things and just all out ready to learn more and show everyone what she knows.”
Courtney Sanchez, Guardian of CTK Participant