Fayette County Public Schools is kicking off a summer full of free or low-cost activities to help prepare incoming kindergarten students for their first day of school.
"Countdown to Kindergarten," unveiled at a news conference Tuesday, will offer a bit of everything: plays children can perform themselves, ballet performances, museum visits, hands-on arts projects and hints of what kindergarten will be like.
All are designed to provide fun and promote the importance of early childhood learning.
The summer events are scheduled to wrap up with a "Going To School" rally Aug. 2 at the Lexington Legends' Whitaker Bank Ballpark, and Aug. 6 at an all-day swim at the Southland, Tates Creek, Woodland and Castlewood pools. Lexington schools open Aug. 11.
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About 3,250 children will start kindergarten in Lexington this year, Fayette Schools Superintendent Stu Silberman said. Entering kindergarten is one of the "critical transitions" in a child's education, and making that transition a smooth one can pay dividends years later, Silberman said.
Partnering with the schools to put on the Countdown program are United Way of the Bluegrass, the Child Care Council and the PNC Foundation, which is providing $13,000 for the effort.
Countdown is open to any child who has been registered for kindergarten in Fayette Schools this year. Others can take part as soon as they are registered.
A letter with a T-shirt coupon and other program information has been mailed to the home of every child who has registered.
Starting now, parents can take their coupons to the nearest Fayette County Public Library branch and get a free Countdown to Kindergarten T-shirt for each child in the program. The T-shirt then becomes the child's ticket to each Countdown event this summer.
Events start June 11 with a "Kindergarten Rumpus" at the Lexington Children's Theatre. Other events will follow almost weekly through the summer.