Community Grant Recipient Profile: Stretch To Kindergarten

Gabriel was in a shell of fear and shyness as he approached kindergarten according to his mother.

“After just six weeks my son Gabriel feels more confident and now is comfortable raising his hand to ask and answer questions in front of the class”, said Gabriel’s mother Cynthia.  “He is coming out of his shell of shyness.”

Gabriel is in a class this summer with a number of other children starting kindergarten in the Los Altos School District this fall.

Stretch To Kindergarten (STK) is a program of the Family Engagement Institute, a recent LACF Community Grant recipient.

STK offers a tuition-free, parent-participation, spring and summer kindergarten readiness program for socioeconomically disadvantaged children.

STK works to cultivate enduring partnerships among families, schools and the community to give children, most of whom have not attended preschool, the skills to help them successfully transition into kindergarten.

STK works with children in small groups to develop their English language, social, reading and math skills.   They also learn independence and to advocate for themselves, something kids without preschool experience may not yet have had the opportunity to learn.

And it’s not just the kids who learn.

Parents volunteer in the classroom and attend parent/child workshops which provide information on transitioning to kindergarten, family literacy, parenting, children’s academic and social development, nutrition and physical health, emotional well-being, volunteering in the schools and community resources.

STK Director Carmen Ponce said she is dedicated to creating a nurturing community to engage the whole family in making this important transition to school.

“It really lays a solid foundation for the students’ long-term success if the parents are involved with their children’s school and are connected to teachers, administrators, and other parents so they can reach out for support.”

Stretch to Kindergarten, founded in 2009 by Elizabeth Simons, a former teacher of Spanish bilingual elementary school classes and now president of the Heising-Simons Foundation, is now a cornerstone of the Family Engagement Institute at Foothill College.

STK serves families of children registered for kindergarten in nine local school districts, including Mountain View Whisman and Sunnyvale, in addition to the Los Altos School District.

Los Altos Community Foundation is proud to support the work of the Family Engagement Institute and Stretch to Kindergarten.