Mecklenburg County Makes Pre-K a Priority

Funding approved for 600 additional pre-kindergarten spots in our community
Mecklenburg County has taken a bold and courageous step towards its action plan for early childhood education. On June 19th, our county commissioners voted in favor of appropriating funding to offer Pre-K to 600 additional four-year-old children for the 2018-2019 school year.

This initiative, called Meck Pre-K, is the first phase of a six-year plan to expand Pre-K to all Mecklenburg County four-year-olds.

Why is Pre-K important?
A child's brain develops more in the first five years than at any other point in their life. When children have access to quality early education, they are better equipped to start kindergarten healthy and ready to learn, leading to higher success in their future schooling. When children are successful in school, they are more likely to be employed, earn higher salaries and are less likely to commit violent crimes. Laying a healthy foundation in those first five years is crucial.

Who will manage the county's Meck Pre-K initiative?
Smart Start of Mecklenburg County is honored to have been asked to manage the Meck Pre-K program. From budget management to site selection to student recruitment, it is our privilege to administer this initiative for the county.

Who is eligible?
For the 2018-19 school year, children must be 4 years old on or before August 31, 2018 and live in Mecklenburg county. Keep an eye on our website; applications for enrollment will be available soon.

Check our website throughout the summer as we will be sharing more information and updates about the Meck Pre-K initiative.
Combating Boredom & Summer Learning Loss

April Whitlock, Fundanoodle CEO, shares tips and tricks for keeping your children engaged this summer.
We are in the throes of summer! Some kids are scheduled every week with camps or vacations. Others' summer calendars are a blank-slate meant to be filled with impromptu activities.  

Whatever your Little Learner’s summer plans, I can guarantee you have probably already heard the words “I’m bored!”

Boredom is GOOD for Little Learners
Psychologists  (and even  the Girl Scouts ) recommend that children should be bored in the summer. Boredom sparks creativity, teaches self-reliance and develops a child’s ability to take care of themselves.

Honestly, boredom isn’t what worries me about the long, lazy days of summer. I get worked up about the educational losses that happen without dedicated learning time away from school! The inevitable “summer slide”.

The  equivalent of one month of overall learning  is lost during summer vacation. And it can   take up to six weeks in the fall  to re-learn the information lost over the summer. Luckily, studies show that it only takes a few minutes every day to combat the summer slide. You can find some great ideas to combat the “summer slide”  here here  and  here !

Learning on Vacation? Yes!
You don’t have to go on a historical tour to make your summer vacation a learning experience! There are so many fun games and activities you can do when you are on the road with your Little Learners this summer:
· Keep a Journal – Regardless of the age of your Little Learner, you can keep a journal of your summer experiences. What a great way to practice motor skills and handwriting while recording memories.
Celebrate Summer Learning Day on Thursday July 12!

On Thursday, we’re celebrating Summer Learning Day with a whole lot of learning fun!

Our children work hard during the school year and they are learning a lot. Despite that work, they can lose what they learn during breaks. When that happens, they come back to school behind. Follow these tips to help children maintain their learning over the summer so they will be ready to learn what’s next in school.

  • Read with your children and listen to them read to you.
  • Encourage children to read 20 minutes every day and especially over winter, spring and summer breaks.
  • Ask them questions about what they are reading.

Download the Parent Fact Sheet from NC Early Childhood Foundation to learn a few ways to keep your child(ren) engaged in reading and writing over the summer.
Meet the Smart Start Team

Say hello to our Director of Community Engagement and Development, Cassandra Harris
What is your role at Smart Start of Mecklenburg County?
I just transitioned into the Community Engagement and Development Director role. I get to help tell the community about what we do and encourage people to support our mission.

How long have you been with the organization?
2 years this month and I'm loving every minute.

What’s the coolest thing you’re working on right now?
I am working with the Harvard team that founded The Boston Basics community awareness campaign to create our very own Meck Basics. I am so excited to work with this amazing group of educators and share the campaign with our community this fall.
What is your favorite thing to do around Charlotte?
I love to take the light rail into town with my 5 year old and eat lunch at 7 th street market, read books and play at Imaginon and hop across the street to climb the tower and run through the splash pad at First Ward Park.  

What is your favorite childhood book?
I loved all of the Berenstain Bears’ books!
SummerSHARE 2018

Help us give need a vacation this summer.
From July 16-22, we are collecting books for the agencies we serve to be given to young children throughout Mecklenbug County. When you purchase books off our Give Shop Wish List, they will be sent directly to us and we can get them into the hands of our partner agencies and child care programs.
You can get the children involved, too! Children can host a "LemonAID Stand" during the week of July 16-22 and use the profits to purchase books off our Wish List. This is a great way to teach children about caring for others in our community. Be sure to tag us on social media so we can share and encourage other children to host LemonAID Stands, too.

Check out our Give Shop Wish List and help us give need a break this summer.
Employment Opportunities
Smart Start is hiring for two new positions to assist with the implementation of the newly funded county pre-kindergarten expansion.

  1. The Pre-K Specialist will provide technical assistance, coordination, and monitoring to Pre-K community sites. 
  2. The Pre-K Program Assistant will provide administrative support and work closely with the Meck Pre-K Director and Pre-K Specialist. S/he will be responsible for supporting the program through the initial database implementation and ongoing data entry and updates. 
Funded Program Spotlight
Child Care Resources Inc. Directors' Leadership Academy

Child Care Resources Inc. provides training, technical assistance and peer mentors to child care administrators, and those interested in becoming administrators, to assist them in strengthening their leadership, business, and administration skills.
Click here to learn more about Child Care Resources Inc.
4600 Park Rd. | Charlotte, NC 28209
Smart Start of Mecklenburg County administers approximately $22 million a year in state, county and private funds to programs serving children birth to age five, their families, and their caregivers in Mecklenburg County. 

Thank You!

Thank you for all you do to ensure that ALL children in Mecklenburg County enter school healthy and ready to succeed!