EDEN — A North Carolina-based non-profit group put free custom-built touchpad computers into the hands of five dozen preschoolers at Douglass Elementary School here on Thursday.
ApSeed, the organization that produces computers designed to prepare youngsters for kindergarten with pre-loaded curriculum, had already distributed 500 such touchpads to the county’s Head Start students earlier this month.
Many of those computers were distributed during home visits to Head Start families.
ApSeed partners with childcare providers, school districts, and local or state agencies, to distribute free take-home computers to any preschool-aged child, but especially to those in federally-sponsored pre-K, Title 1, and Head Start programs or who are served by the WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) program.
Seedlings don’t connect to the internet or have a camera, so they’re as safe as possible for young learners.
Each touchpad contains N.C. State Board of Education-approved apps designed to boost literacy and language skills in preschoolers.
“Seedling educational touchpads make kindergarten-readiness fun and ApSeed is thrilled to provide them to young learners in Rockingham County,” says ApSeed Executive Director Dr. Julie Morrow.
“Seedlings are designed specifically to help preschool-aged children become better prepared to start kindergarten by teaching them the foundations of literacy – letters and sounds, numbers, shapes, and colors.”
“I am grateful to partner with ApSeed to provide our youngest learners with an age-appropriate tool that will help accelerate their learning and ensure they are ready for kindergarten and beyond,” said Rockingham County Schools Superintendent Dr. John Stover.
“Every child deserves to succeed,” says ApSeed founder, Greg Alcorn. “That’s precisely why ApSeed created the Seedling educational touchpad. We are disrupting any educational delays caused by poverty, helping the youngest learners grow and bloom.”
Each Seedling comes with a Readiness Kit, a backpack filled with supplies and tools to complement the touchpad.
These items teach fine motor/dexterity skills not covered by the Seedling, such as using scissors and building with blocks. The kit also includes a book and a whiteboard with markers.
Even though they are distributed for free, each Seedling costs ApSeed $163 to manufacture. ApSeed’s goal is to get these custom-built touchpads in the hands of all preschoolers in the nation.
Since 2016, the organization has delivered nearly 17,000 Seedlings – free of charge – to children in North and South Carolina, New YorkCity, and as far away as Zimbabwe.
ApSeed is funded by private donors and government grants and a $2.5 million directed grant from the N.C. Deptartment of Public Instruction, which enables it to serve 14 N.C. counties.
ApSeed is actively seeking more endowments to grow their impact, organizers said.
Children born into poverty are less likely to be kindergarten-ready, which can stunt their opportunities for growth and academic success before they’ve even started school. This affects any student burdened by poverty, butdisproportionately impacts children of color, according to research and ApSeed creators.
Seedlings provide transformative technology that has shown little ones improve from 21% tp 83% in learning letters and numbers in one school year, the non-profit said.
Local Head Start programs scored 30% higher in literacy in one semester in one North Carolina county, according to ApSeed.