BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD)- Throughout the legislative session, the lawmakers have touched on how early childhood development is crucial. House Bill 304 by Representative Rodney Lyons looks to get learning materials to families before the kindergarten age to help prepare kids for their future education.
Under the bill, kids younger than five will have access to workbooks that teach them basic developmental topics.
“Those who are at home with their grandmother, aunt, or what have you and those opportunities aren’t there for them,” Rep. Lyons said. “This is to give them the opportunity to get a leg up so they can be better prepared when they have an opportunity to get in a classroom.”
It isn’t mandatory, but the school systems want kids entering first grade, and possibly kindergarten, to have better learning skills. It also will not be online so the more rural areas of the state that don’t have strong broadband can still participate.
“A mom can come home after a day’s work, sit down with her kids and talk about colors, shapes, and sizes and even some language,” Rep. Lyons said. “They can talk about it like reading a story to help kids develop while they’re not there.”
A big struggle the lawmakers are trying to manage this year is the students who are falling behind. Senator Cleo Fields has proposed his mandatory kindergarten bill which has made it far in the legislative process and now this bill can reach even younger kids.
“Right now, we don’t have that. we are hustling and trying to find ways to find slots, but they aren’t available and in the meantime those kids are being further left behind,” Rep. Lyons said.
There won’t be a need for increased funding because Rep. Lyons said schools already have the resources to provide the workbooks. The bill also would require a report to the legislature about how many kids are participating in the program and their demographics.
The bill has gotten a lot of support on the House floor and now in the Senate committee. It heads on to the senate floor where it nears completion.