How Galesburg is combating a lag in kindergarten readiness

GALESBURG, Illinois -- A recent study shows that two-thirds of kids in the Galesburg School District don't exhibit the developmental skills needed to start kindergarten.

The Kindergarten Individual Development Survey showed that in Galesburg 61% of children weren't ready for kindergarten.  The survey factors in social-emotional learning, literacy, and math.

"It’s alarming but it’s something we know we can tackle," said Laun Dunn, the executive director of United Way of Knox County. "We have the programs in place and the lunch program because we know it was badly needed."

The organization hosts a summer lunch program available to children from age one to 18.  She said engaging with children during their formative years helps them learn the basics they need to get ready for school.

"Oftentimes people think kindergarten readiness is being able to read before they ever get there," she said. "It's not. It's actually teaching those soft skills."

Dunn explained that soft skills are fundamentals like basic hygiene and patience.

"Parents are a child's first teacher," she said.  But when parents are struggling to provide, sometimes the attention to development suffers.

That's where programs like the lunch program, held at the Knox County YMCA, are in place.

The United Way is also combating the readiness lag by offering an online book-reading service. It coincides with a book-gifting program that acts as a way for families to ensure their homes have age-appropriate books.