Kinder Kits: Cleveland kindergarten teacher creates kits to help boost summer learning

CLEVELAND -

It is the crucial grade level that helps set the tone for a child's education experience.

Right now, some parents are struggling to find ways to encourage and inspire their little learners.

They are not only dealing with the emotions of sending their little one off to school for the day, they are trying to figure out ways to make sure they have a strong start.

One teacher in Cleveland is stepping up to help students succeed.

"I always want my children to be ready," said Dana Oveal.

Like many parents, Oveal did not quite know what to do to make sure her daughter Maya was ready for kindergarten.

Maya's teacher, Ben Colas, recognized the struggle among parents his first year in Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

"That fall, one out of my 26 kids came in knowing letters and many of my kids had never held a pencil before even," said Colas.

The shocking realization so many of his students were unprepared prompted Colas to create Kinder Kits.

“It builds a steady foundation for them to grow on," said Oveal.

Last summer, Maya was one of 700 inbound kindergarten students to get a kit.

"I was excited. Maya was excited," said Oveal.

In each one, a bag of Skittles to help with colors and counting, along with rice, beans and shaving cream to practice letters.

Maya's mom tells News 5 it didn't take long to see a difference in her daughter's ability level.

"Since she already had the foundation, she had the confidence in what she was learning and then off of that she wanted to learn more," said Oveal.

Colas hopes to inspire parents to get creative with learning.

"If we can take these everyday items that the kids are familiar with, they already have at home and just help parents see how they can use this in an educational way could be a tremendous opportunity with that," said Colas.

Colas tells News 5 the kits are working. Last fall, 17 of his kindergarten students recognized letters on day one versus just one the year before.

This summer, nearly 5,000 students and their parents are getting the chance to sharpen critical skills and have some fun along the way.

All of CMSD’s incoming kindergarten students are receiving a kinder kit this year, along with 150 families in Lorain and 100 in Toledo.

Colas says he hopes to expand the reach to Cincinnati and Columbus by the end of the summer.

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