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Hastings Pre-K Committee launches website, resources for parents

Members of the Pre-K Committee met Tuesday, Jan. 15 for their monthly meeting. Kelsey Roy / RiverTown Multimedia

The Pre-K Committee launched a website Tuesday, Jan. 15, aiming to making kindergarten readiness resources easily accessible to parents.

The website provides parents with checklists, an outline of the events leading up to kindergarten and more information on education-based and Pre-K Committee events.

The committee's goal is to increase children's readiness for kindergarten. It does so by sharing resources with child care providers and parents.

One way the committee reaches out to care providers and parents is through a monthly newsletter, Curbside Parenting, created by parent educator, Debbie Fleming. The newsletter is sent to providers around Hastings. The newsletter will soon be available on the group's website as well.

In part of being a parent educator, Fleming visits home and center day cares. These sessions focus on helping with questions that parents and caregivers have and creating stronger ties between peers, parents and caregivers, Fleming said.

The committee also branches out in the community by having specific members designated to reach out to different types of organizations within the community.

Lorelei Rein, co-director for the Early Learning Center at St. Philip's Lutheran Church, acts as the outreach representative to non-public preschools.

"It's great because I know what the district would like us to do in preschools and I get to pass that information on to the community's faith-based organizations," Rein said.

Pre-K Committee also works to spread word about programs from other local organizations that involve education. One such collaboration is with the United Way of Hastings' Imagination Library program.

The Imagination Library program sends age-appropriate books to children up to 5 years old free of cost. The Pre-K Committee helps the program by going directly to the source, through classrooms and home visits, and shares information about the program with children and parents.

As part of the group's efforts to educate child care providers in Hastings, they also offer professional development courses. The courses are free to attend and offer continuing education units for relicensure. The topics of each monthly course varies. January's educational course, held Jan. 8, discussed early childhood special education.

The Pre-K Committee was formed two years ago as part of the requirements set by the Minnesota Department of Education's World's Best Workforce program, which requires school districts to meet goals within certain areas of interest.

It was during seminars with the Minnesota Elementary School Principals' Association that Hastings educators needed to focus on the connection between preschool and kindergarten education, according to Mary Pasche, K-6 coordinator for the district.

"Our hope is to be a community-wide group, because there are so many children in Hastings and we can't prepare them ourselves. We can't do it without it being a community-wide effort," Pasche said.

Any child care providers that are interested in learning more, or having a representative come to their center or home can email Debbie Fleming at dfleming@hastings.k12.mn.us.

For more information on the Pre-K Committee or how to prepare your child for kindergarten, visit

www.hastings.k12.mn.us/departments___services/teaching___learning/kindergarten_readiness.

class='subhead'>If you go ...

Some events the Pre-K Committee wants to be sure parents are aware of are the Countdown to Kindergarten and Youth Expo. The committee also has a professional development course to be held in February.

Countdown to Kindergarten will take place at all Hastings elementary schools from 5:30-7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24. Parents and new students can come and go as they please to talk with teachers, see the campuses, look at classrooms and more.

The Youth Expo will be held 5-7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 4, at Hastings High School.

The Youth Expo is a chance for preschools and other organizations with youth programs to show off what they offer, and help parents find ways to involve their child in the community.

The next professional development course will be held 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5, at the Curriculum Center next to Kennedy Elementary. The topic will be "Literacy with kindergarten teachers."

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