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Virtual Pre-K Expands to NV Libraries to Fill Math, Reading Gaps

September 20, 2010

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - State numbers point to a learning achievement gap, at least partly because only 40 percent of Nevada children are enrolled in a nursery, preschool or kindergarten, according to Nevada's Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems Strategic Plan. However, a "Virtual Pre-K" program is now available at many local libraries.

Rachel Murillo is the Virtual Pre-K state coordinator for the Washoe County School System. She says they now offer kits at many Nevada library branches to help parents introduce their preschoolers to basic math and reading skills.

"We know that children are starting behind. These are activities that are fun and easy, that parents can do in the home, and they can turn everyday moments into learning moments - that's really what Virtual Pre-K is designed to do."

Virtual Pre-K Kits are now available in Washoe County and libraries in many rural parts of the state. They include cards and videos in both English and Spanish, giving parents tips on what the learning objectives are for each of the one-on-one activities with children.

One fun example of Virtual Pre-K activities is called the "family tree," in which parents share family photos with their kids and discuss what those pictures mean, Murillo says.

"Families sit down together with their children and look at pictures, and talk to them about relationships, and who is grandpa and who is grandma and aunts and uncles. We know that children need those visual cues to get them to understand the way things work."

Virtual Pre-K is important because it gives Nevada children a better chance of success when they reach the first few, important learning years of elementary school, Murillo stresses.

"We know that those are critical times, when children need to understand language concepts, particularly. When they're behind in things like reading skills, that often translates into difficulties in other grades."

Local libraries that do not have Virtual Pre-K kits often can order them, or they may be found online at www.virtualpre-k.org.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NV