Olathe & Southwest Joco

Olathe reading center assists early learning

Lifelong learning and success is instilled early in children. Olathe Parents as Teachers now has a new, specialized resource center to help build that foundation in young children from birth to 5 years.

The United Way of Greater Kansas City’s Success By 6 Resource Center opened in the Olathe School District earlier this month. Made possible by a $15,000 grant from BMO Harris Bank, the center is located in the North Lindenwood Support Center at 315 N. Lindenwood Ave. It is the first resource center to open in Kansas and the 16th to open in the region.

Built around partnerships with local school districts, the network of Success By 6 Resource Centers provides a focal point for parental engagement around early learning through a lending library and other tools. All materials are available free of charge.

“United Way is excited to bring its first Success By 6 Resource Center to Kansas,” said Teri Retzlaff, senior vice president at United Way of Greater Kansas City. “The new center is an excellent example of our focus on addressing the Greater Kansas City community’s biggest needs: literacy, career readiness, well-being and poverty.”

The grant funding provided by Success By 6 gave Olathe Parents as Teachers the ability to buy educational toys and books to aid in development and learning for children in the program. Parents may check out the items for two weeks. The program also enhances parental involvement through play groups where parents can learn how to use the toys from parent educators.

Parents as Teachers is a national early childhood education program that pairs parent educators with families to offer support and guidance. Nancy Keel, director of Olathe Parents as Teachers, said the new resource center is a welcome asset to the district.

“The access to toys and books that are age-appropriate for the children will help parents fully understand that play is indeed the method by which their children learn new skills and gain knowledge that will enable them to be ready for school,” she said.

The Success By 6 Centers are an important support for school districts with limited resources and for parents who face their own educational attainment challenges. In 2014, nearly 12,000 young children and their parents were served by Success By 6 Resource Centers. Assessments with young children by the centers demonstrate that 80 percent achieved one or more developmental goals that enhance school readiness.

Other centers are located in the Belton, Blue Springs, Center, Fort Osage, Grandview, Harrisonville, Hickman Mills, Independence, Kansas City, North Kansas City, Oak Grove and Raytown school districts.