University of Pittsburgh
August 19, 2011

MEDIA ADVISORY: Pitt’s Office of Child Development Plans to Welcome Hill District’s New Kindergarten Students Aug. 25 and Sept. 7


Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH—Kindergarten students at two Hill District schools will walk through a “human pathway” of supportive parents and community members on their first day of class this year.

Parents and friends, accompanied by the Ready Freddy green frog mascot, will gather from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. Aug. 25 outside Pittsburgh Weil PreK-5 School, 2250 Centre Ave., and on Sept. 7 outside Pittsburgh Miller PreK-5, 2055 Bedford Ave. Participants will join hands to create pathways for the students; parents will be treated to bagels and coffee, and fruit will be provided for the children.

The events are part of the Ready Freddy Program, created by Pitt’s Office of Child Development (OCD) to increase awareness about kindergarten and to help ensure a smoother transition from home to the classroom.

“National studies highlight the fact that nearly half of all children struggle with the transition to kindergarten,” said Ken Smythe-Leistico, director of OCD’s Pathways to School Success. “Late arrivals and poor initial attendance are considered significant predictors for school failure. The Ready Freddy Program targets those children most likely to be absent on the first day,” he said.

Smythe-Leistico and his staff canvassed the Hill District this summer, enrolling youngsters in kindergarten, taking parents on virtual tours of the schools, and distributing new family activities calendars and an interactive Web-book.

Before OCD’s involvement, kindergarten enrollment at these schools had been low, sometimes with as few as 12 students attending the first day of class. This year, officials expect 39 youngsters to enroll at Miller and 54 at Weil.




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