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Region Stories

These stories illustrate how early childhood programs and services funded by First Things First make a difference for young children and families in communities across Arizona.

Summer transition to kindergarten helps Pascua Yaqui Tribe children be ready

A program designed to help more children living in the Pascua Yaqui Tribe be ready for kindergarten launched this summer.

The First Things First Pascua Yaqui Tribe Regional Partnership Council funded a Summer Transition to Kindergarten program, which provided four weeks of classroom experience for children who either did not attend preschool, needed extra support because of social and emotional issues or for children with very limited preschool experience in order to prepare them for the transition successfully to kindergarten.

There were 45 children who participated in the summer program. The children, ages 3-5, were divided up into three classrooms at the Pascua Yaqui Tribe Head Start with two teachers each. The program also provided bus transportation, breakfast and lunch for all participants.

Throughout the four weeks, teachers focused on school readiness with techniques that supported social and emotional growth, such as getting the children used to interacting with one another, how to use the bathroom by themselves and following a set schedule. They also provided a fun academic structure concentrated on reading, writing and math activities. Some of the activities, such as counting, incorporated a Pascua Yaqui language and cultural component, such as teaching them how to say animal names. The children received not only hands on classroom experience, but had field trips to the Children’s Museum Tucson where they participated in science activities.

“I thought it went really well for the first year,” said Andrea Gonzales, education and curriculum supervisor for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe Head Start. “We were able to do what was intended in providing a transition opportunity into kinder. In providing educational opportunities for kids, who have not had experience, I think was an eye opener for parents and grandparents that will help them better prepare their child for the future.”

Shardae Murillo, whose son Jacobo, participated in the program, said she felt the program prepared him for what to expect in kindergarten and the basics of what it is going to be like by learning a little bit of everything, including colors and numbers.

Parents were also provided resources to help them help their children be ready to enter kindergarten, such as information on physicals and immunizations.

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