Smart Start of Mecklenburg County Celebrates Hispanic Heritage MonthSeptember 2023
At Smart Start of Mecklenburg County (SSMC), we know that learning begins at birth and that children's first teachers are their parents and caregivers. Every ordinary moment of the day can be a time for learning, from trips to the grocery store to family mealtimes. That's why we invest in programs to reach the Spanish-speaking population of Mecklenburg County, such as Ready4K, MECK Pre-K, Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, and Charlotte Bilingual Preschool.
Ready4K, a text-messaging service, was founded on access. More than 95% of families use text messages, which makes it the perfect way to deliver evidence-based curricula to birth through kindergarten families each week in multiple languages. Charlotte families currently receive English, Spanish, Arabic, Burmese, and Russian messages. To date, we have reached 164,081 text messages with skills and strategies appropriate to their children's age and stage of development to families of over 2,559 children.
Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, a free book gifting program, works to offer bilingual titles to families. The Imagination Library is assisted by SSMC's early literacy program, which strives to attend events that reach all families in Mecklenburg County and provide bilingual options for Spanish-speaking parents and caregivers.
SSMC has 21 Little Libraries across the county, and 40 percent of those are stocked with bilingual books, thanks in part to our partners at Promising Pages.
MECK Pre-K is a high-quality free pre-K education for four-year-old children in Mecklenburg County. MECK Pre-K is offered through high-quality, licensed childcare centers in Mecklenburg County. MECK Pre-K employs over 15 teachers and six specialists and coordinators who speak Spanish. Classrooms utilize Ready Rosie, TS Gold Curriculum, and Marco Polo, all featuring family activities and at-home lessons in Spanish. MECK Pre-K also looks forward to rolling out a new Spanish workshop, La Fuerza, focusing on literacy, Circle of Parents, and The Protective factors.
Charlotte Bilingual Preschool has been dedicated to providing innovative, two-generation solutions for preparing Spanish-speaking children for success in the classroom since 1999. Realizing their services and programs weren't accessible to many Spanish speakers in the county, Charlotte Bilingual added auxiliary classrooms at a pair of Alliance Center for Education (AC4Ed) sites in high Spanish-speaking areas. With two classrooms in each satellite location, Charlotte Bilingual uses its educational model, working with three and early four-year-old children from Spanish-speaking homes, to expand its reach and impact to be more accessible.
These initiatives support Smart Start's vision that all children enter kindergarten healthy and ready to succeed.