Q: What is Mesa K-Ready?
A: Mesa K-Ready is a community collaborative focused on kindergarten readiness and promoting the importance of early childhood learning in Mesa. Partners include Mesa Public Schools, City of Mesa, Mesa United Way, Mesa Chamber of Commerce, and many others.
Q: How did Mesa K-Ready begin?
A: A few years ago, Mesa Public Schools Superintendent reported that “Approximately two-thirds of our children are arriving to kindergarten not only scoring below benchmark but some so far below they aren’t even registering on the test score.” Sadly, this is not only a Mesa problem and is happening nationally in many communities like Mesa. However, in Mesa the problem has increased significantly in the last decade and more and more children are starting kindergarten unprepared. Research proves that when kids start behind in kindergarten, it is very difficult to catch up. Studies show it has a direct correlation to children not reaching their full potential, not being able to earn livable wages. The Mesa Public Schools Superintendent asked for assistance from the City of Mesa to work together to better identify the problem and then create potential solutions.
Q: What happened next?
A: The Mayor and Council responded by forming an Early Childhood Education Task Force to research and analyze the challenge for Mesa. One of the recommendations was to form a cross-sector collaboration to tackle the primary issues of access and affordability. The Task Force suggested leveraging existing resources and programs and confirmed that the City of Mesa has a vested interest in lifting families and children through education and ensuring a skilled and talented workforce to sustain Mesa’s economy. The Mesa K-Ready Community Collaborative was ‘born.’ Early Childhood Education Task Report 2016.
Q: What does that mean for Mesa families and children?
A: All Mesa families now have FREE access 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week to Miss Humblebee’s Academy – an award-winning, online and offline curriculum that prepares children ages 2 to 6 for kindergarten proficiency. Miss Humblebee’s Academy offers a combination of online and offline learning and the DIY section takes the information your child has learned online and lets them use it offline through the use of hands-on activities. To access the free program, all you need is a library card and you can download the software on to your own personal device. Learn how now!
Additionally, visit our Events page and learn more about what enrichment activities parents and children may engage in to improve the learning process and to help children develop. Many events are free and many offer discounts on admission.
Q: What about families and children who may need more help? Is there more than Miss Humblebee’s Academy?
A: Yes. The Mesa K-Ready Very Important Preschooler and Parents (VIPP) program is a free program for qualified Mesa families who have less and need this program the most. Register now for the Mesa K-Ready VIPP Program. Visit the Mesa K-Ready Service Menu page for listing of all the benefits families receive through Mesa K-Ready.
Q: How does the VIPP program work?
A: The Mesa K-Ready VIPP program is a three-pronged approach to ensure a holistic, community-driven approach that leverages existing resources and builds new, innovative connections.
- Each participating child in Mesa K-Ready VIPP engages in ‘preschool at home’ with support to ensure success. Families are equipped with a mini iPad (free to the family) that has free/temporary Internet service (filtered/CIPA compliant) and that is pre-loaded with Miss Humblebee’s Academy (available to any resident with a Mesa Library Card), an online kindergarten preparedness program. The children/families will be supported by “mentors” or skilled staff who will be trained and supervised by professional educators from Mesa Public Schools. This support includes weekly contacts to the families to make sure each child is making progress using the program, to help troubleshoot any technical issues, to update the family of upcoming events, and to encourage families to participate in ‘open lab sessions,’ where the mentors and program manager will be available to work directly with them on Miss Humblebee’s Academy.
- Special Events / Enrichment Programming. The VIPP experience includes access to more classroom-like enrichment experiences at the City’s existing libraries, parks, museums, and arts center to supplement the academic programming and to help reduce concerns in the childhood development field related to too much screen time. There is also programming and learning available through Mesa Public Schools Parent University. Parents and caregivers need to know what “kindergarten readiness” looks like, how to play and learn with your child, and to become lifelong education advocates for their children.
- Referrals to social services for participating families. The population eligible to participate in the VIPP program are low- to moderate-income households and are likely struggling financially. With this challenge in mind, our goal is to connect families to existing services to strengthen the family and help ease burdens to enable full and regular participation in VIPP program offerings and promote positive educational and social outcomes.
The three-pronged approach:
Q: Why worry about educating children starting so young?
- 90% of critical brain development occurs before age five.
- Studies prove that when children begin kindergarten ‘behind,’ they are more likely to stay behind their entire K-12 education, and consequently limit their income-earning potential later in life.
- Today, only 36% of Mesa’s three- and four-year-old’s attend a formal early learning or care program, compared to 48% nationally.
- Mesa has approximately 31,200 children five years and younger.
- One in four of these children are living in poverty.
- Children who receive free and reduced lunches score much lower than students from more affluent families.
Q: What happens if children do not experience quality early childhood education?
A: Children who are not exposed to stimulating cognitive and emotionally engaging experiences in their early years are 25% more likely to drop out of school and a staggering 60% are less likely than their peers to attend college.
Q: What happens if children DO experience quality early childhood education?
A: Children with access to early learning are more likely to:
- Reach school ready to learn
- Read at grade level by 4th grade
- Graduate from high school on time
- Attend college or pursue skilled trades
- Be in good health
- Find and hold living wage jobs.
Q: Why this program and why not others?
A: Mesa K-Ready is innovative and unique in that it is a hybrid of academic program delivery that effectively blends coaching, parent education, social emotional enrichment activities and health and human services. Most early childhood education programs offered in Mesa are tuition-based. There are simply not enough affordable slots in these existing programs to accommodate Mesa’s growing early childhood population. And, even if there were, none of the low to moderate income families could afford it.
Q: Why now and why does this matter in Mesa?
A: Approximately 74 percent of business leaders say a skilled and educated workforce is the most important factor to business. Currently, 25 percent of Mesa adults over 25 years old earn a bachelor’s degree or higher. It is our vision that we prove program success and that this model is duplicated by other communities in Arizona and the United States.
Inspiring Generations. The Mesa Way.
Mesa Public Schools Foundation