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Rising kindergartner first to complete library challenge
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Rising kindergartner first to complete library challenge

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Cheyenne Philpott

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Cheyenne Philpott is Franklin County’s first finisher in the school readiness program, 1,000 Things Before Kindergarten.

Cheyenne Philpott, daughter of William and Kala Philpott, has been busy getting ready to start kindergarten this year at Henry Elementary School. The 5-year-old is Franklin County’s first finisher in Virginia’s statewide school readiness program, 1,000 Things Before Kindergarten.

“It makes me feel good to be the first finisher,” Cheyenne said.

She said the books were fun to read, and she liked the lift the flap books the best. She also said keeping the logs was easy and that she and her mother both did the recording.

The Franklin County Public Library began participating in the program last December after accepting an invitation from Nan Carmack, director of Library Development and Networking for the Library of Virginia. The program is funded by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Library of Virginia to encourage parents and pre-K children to do 1,000 things before kindergarten. There is no cost to Franklin County Public Library to participate in the program.

Carmack said the library was one of 17 from across the state to initially participate in the program. There are now 35 participating libraries with more continuing to be added. Those selected have been “identified as libraries needing support for this kind of program,” she said.

It is not necessary to write down the name of the books or activities. Books and activities can be repeated as repetition promotes learning to read and healthy development. Upon completion of 100 books or activities, children may turn in their log and select a new book and receive another log.

Christine Arena, Franklin County Public Library’s coordinator of programming, marketing and community outreach, said, “The evidence-based program recognizes that the developmental period from prenatal through pre-K is critical to brain growth, learning ability and early literacy skills development. The program is designed to positively influence children’s brain development, stimulate lifelong learning and support healthy family relationships.”

There’s more to the program than just reading. The 1,000 things can include activities such as coloring, singing, counting, reciting nursery rhymes, cooking, looking at picture books, sounding out words, going on a nature walk and attending the library’s story hours.

Dorothy Anderson, children’s librarian in Rocky Mount, said the activity of reading signs out loud while driving is an opportunity for children to see that “words are all around us. They tell us things we need to know.” STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) activities include possibilities like working with fractions when using recipes and counting when climbing stairs.

Anderson said identifying activities as well as books read, helps with “being aware of teachable moments you have during the day with your child.”

Cheyenne said some of the activities she participated in included handmade crafts, activity books and flash cards. For reading, she read about people, animals, food and sports.

Loving books and wanting to learn motivated Cheyenne to participate after hearing about the challenge from Anderson. Cheyenne was further motivated because she knew that with starting kindergarten this year, time was of the essence. She started the program in February and completed it in May. Cheyenne said it wasn’t hard getting the 1,000 things done in such a short time because she loves to read and do activities.

Cheyenne said she has friends also doing the program and that she’d encourage other preschoolers to do it, too, so that they can learn and have lots of fun. She goes to the library often, every week or two.

“I like to go to the library to get books and to see Shelley the Library Turtle,” she said.

Anderson said she enjoys seeing families come to the library. She recalled how excited Cheyenne and her mother were to start the program. She said it’s fun having Cheyenne come in, unload her books and fill up her special backpack with more books.

Cheyenne’s mother, Kala, gives 1,000 Things Before Kindergarten high marks.

“I feel the program has helped Cheyenne with recognizing sight words. It helps encourage children with social and emotional development,” Kala said. “This program has greatly benefited Cheyenne and could benefit other children as well. I like to read books, too, but I would have to say that I love reading to Cheyenne more because I feel like it is our one-on-one time.”

More than 140 children have signed up for the program at the Rocky Mount location and about 20 have signed up at the Westlake branch.

To participate in the free program, parents can stop by either location to sign up any child who hasn’t started kindergarten. At sign-up, families receive a book bag with a colorful folder listing websites and activity ideas. Also included is a log to check off every book and activity completed.

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