Expectations for students are increasing, even for kids going into kindergarten, and so a Michigan State associate professor is working to help preschool children get prepared.

Hope Gerde is creating a fully online professional development program for head start teachers, focused on enhancing children’s language and literacy skills through writing.

“This is young children scribbling, drawing, as ways to share their messages through print and eventually yes, moving on to letters, identifying sounds, and creating words.”

The program is called iWRITE and it’s a series of learning modules teachers will work through. These modules will showcase videos, exercises, and examples to proactively engage their students, not wait for young kids to approach with questions on how to write, draw, or express their thoughts on paper.

“Anyone who has spent any time with a 3 or 4-year-old knows they have ideas, they have messages they want to share.”

With that in mind, iWRITE is consciously focused on teaching preschool teachers how to help these young minds with the composing of writing, not just penmanship. Expectations for kids entering school are much greater now and Gerde says, iWRITE gives teachers the guidance on how to get preschool kids going in the right direction.

‘Yes, there are high expectations in kindergarten now, but our young 3, 4, and 5-year old’s can meet these when we make it meaningful and fun.”

A pilot program of iWRITE is currently being used by head start classrooms in Flint, Michigan and Atlanta, Georgia. If successful, the U.S Department of Education funded project may likely find its way in preschool classrooms nationwide.