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First Steps

Early childhood experts  work in a kindergarten and concentrate on the children about to start school, helping prepare them for first grade and closing educational gaps. 

The Problem

Many kindergarten children (5-6 years old) about to start school the following year, are not sufficiently prepared. They lack the necessary gross and fine  motor skills, pre-reading abilities, number recognition, as well as the skills to cope with emotional-social demands. Their parents may be unable to offer the support and assistance the children need, thus leading to a continually growing gap between these children and their more advantaged peers.

In the spring of 2017, it became evident that the kindergarten children of Hefzibah, Netanya were not ready with the necessary tools and skills to enter first grade in September. As a “first-aid” measure, a two-week summer workshop called, “Going up to Alef” was created and operated in the Hefzibah neighborhood, attended mostly by children from the Israeli-Ethiopian community.  The program was designed and implemented by an experienced early childhood educator along with several professional ESRA volunteer staff.  It was decided that such a program is needed throughout the school year, in order to prepare the Hefzibah kindergarteners for their school career. 

The Solution

Professional expert help for kindergarten children, custom-designed to each child's needs, to prepare them for first grade, diminish the school readiness gap, and give them a better chance for academic success.

The Method

In a program that became known as First Steps, two educators/coordinators met with and observed the children and developed a profile of each child, outlining their strengths and weaknesses. They then designed an individually tailored program for each child, with special attention to those needing the most assistance. The educators arrive at the kindergarten twice a week throughout the school year, for individual work with the children. In addition, a scholarship student from ESRA's Students Build a Community project works with three children once a week for 3 hours, under the guidance of the professional coordinators. 

Participants

Children, 5-6 years old, from the Hefzibahh kindergarten, as well as the kindergarten staff, and an ESRA scholarship student. Although most of the children are from Ethiopian backgrounds, some 15% of the children are from various other ethnic backgrounds.

Location

Hefzibah, Netanya.