Baton Rouge Parents Magazine

Building Foundational Success with Great Hearts’ Kinder Readiness Program

Great Hearts Harveston is a growing K-12 public charter school in Baton Rouge’s Harveston neighborhood. Specializing in classical education, they aim to empower students through an immersive liberal arts curriculum rooted in literature, history fine arts, language, and math. To help incoming students and parents become familiar with the environment and curriculum, Great Hearts offers enrolled kindergarten students a readiness program June 3 -14th. Throughout the program, children explore new themes each week and are introduced to essential school concepts such as letter names, letter sounds, letter formation, numbers, and various sensory activities. Additionally, the Kinder Readiness program emphasizes the core values taught at Great Hearts: integrity, humility, courage, and citizenship.

Vincent Tolliver, the Campus Coordinator at Great Hearts, oversees both the kindergarten readiness and after-school program, known as After School Athenaeum. These educational programs exist to increase student/teacher touchpoints and combat academic gaps. The Great Hearts Kinder Readiness program “develops the initial relationship with peers teachers, setting the stage for positive learning environments, while introducing the child to new environments, routines and opportunities for friendship,” says Tolliver, “we want to help them feel comfortable instead of nervous about being away from a parent or guardian.”

During the Kinder Readiness program, students receive community roles and jobs – such as being a line leader, line caboose, or door holder – to foster responsibility and teamwork. Tolliver also describes how they encourage students to hold each other and even the adults accountable. For example, they might remind teachers if they are running over class time, showing their growing confidence and engagement. The program follows the same schedule and rules as the school, ensuring each day is adequately structured. “There is pretty much no idle time, that way scholars are constantly staying busy, having fun and engaging with teachers or peers,” said Tolliever.

Research shows that “high-quality after-school programs have a positive impact on students’ educational outcomes, school attendance, and social and emotional learning.” To testify to the effectiveness of programs like Kinder Readiness or After-school Athenaeum, Tolliver tells the story of a young student in the aftercare program who was extremely timid. He noticed her interest in storytelling, and Tolliver made her the narrator during one of their story lessons. “She narrated the story, and we just saw her blossom, becoming outgoing and raising her hand,” said Tolliver. Through the extra support received at the after-school program, the student’s teachers noticed her participation and enjoyment in class increase. Tolliever explains how seeing students grow in their academic confidence like this young girl is his favorite part of working in education. “Especially our current kindergarteners,” said Tolliever, “just seeing them advance with their social skills, and be excited about the things that they have learned throughout the school day is really fun.”

To learn more about academics at Great Hearts Harveston, visit their website.