Ebony and Karli, 2017

Ebony and Karli

This August, about 2,500 children will start kindergarten at public district and charter schools within the Kansas City Public Schools attendance boundaries. Research suggests that 1 in 3 Kansas City, Missouri children are not ready for kindergarten. Research tells us that experiences in early childhood, particularly the first 5 years of life, impact long–term social, cognitive, emotional, and physical development. Healthy development in early childhood helps prepare children for the educational experiences of kindergarten and beyond.

Start at Zero partners with parents like Ebony to ensure her daughter, Karli, is ready for kindergarten. “Preparation began when Karli was about 7 months,” says Ebony, sharing that Start at Zero helped Karli and her prepare for kindergarten by putting an emphasis on the whole family’s readiness. According to Ebony, every visit with her Parent Educator had a common goal of kindergarten readiness, learning how early a child begins to learn and about simple, intentional activities she could do to boost Karli’s development and make it enjoyable. Ebony says, “I know that I am my child’s first teacher and the educational piece behind my child’s development is what helped elevate my empowerment as a parent.” 

Ebony credits her Parent Educator with helping her learn how to make learning fun and how to take advantage of teachable moments at home. She learned about the fundamental literacy and numeracy skills Karli would need and also the social-emotional skills, like playing with others and taking her turn. She explains, “Being ready for kindergarten has become a goal signifying that being healthy and prepared for schooling matters and that it takes intentional work to get there. SAZ supported me and provided me with resources, making me more aware of what to expect from Karli during her early developmental stages and beyond.” Karli will begin kindergarten at Scuola Vita Nuova this year. 

Ebony’s journey with Start at Zero began as a parent participating in programming. Ebony would eventually join the Start at Zero staff as an Americorps VISTA, was promoted to a Community Education Worker and, beginning in October of 2019, will become a Parent Educator herself.