It is Hector’s first day of kindergarten. He is uncertain about starting school and his day can go well or badly. He may eagerly join in activities without confusion or he might not be able to follow the teacher’s directions. When everyone is seated on the floor for story time, he might decide to wander around the room or he could eagerly contribute to a conversation about the book. When everyone else is copying their names with crayons, he may confidently write his name or he could just eat his crayon.
We, all of us, can write Hector’s story either way. With the support of our whole community and the leadership of the Success Partnership we are already creating supportive networks for Hector and all of our children. Hector can start school ready to enjoy playing games with numbers and singing the alphabet song, anxious to explore all those new books. Will Hector feel like a failure on day one or be energized to absorb the happy opportunities that await him at school?
The outcome of Hector’s story hinges on the different experiences he has during his first five years of life. That means his parents need to know some fundamental facts.
Fact One: Education begins long before the first day of school. All of the brain’s neural connections for an entire lifetime of learning are in place by the age of 5.
Fact Two: The foundation for all learning comes from experiences during the first five years of life. That is the secret for success at school.
Fact Three: Parents are their children’s first and best teachers and make the biggest difference in their child’s life by talking, playing and reading with them from the time they are born.
Children’s Reading Alliance is proud to be a key player in the Early Childhood Education Coalition and the Success Partnership. We created First Teacher/Primer Maestro classes for parents. At First Teacher classes parents learn to make the most of their time with their little ones. I will never forget the gratitude of one participant.
Lupe speaks Spanish only and never learned to read. She is raising her children and grandchildren. At her first Primer Maestro class her instructor taught her how to talk about the pictures and ask questions to engage her children in conversation about the story. Lupe’s eyes filled with tears because she never realized that she was capable of doing something to help her children learn to read. At each class parents practice new skills with each other before they go home and then share their experiences the next week. Together they are learning to raise readers through talk, play and family reading time.
This is one way the Early Childhood Education Coalition focuses on supporting mothers and children. The coalition is made up of a great variety of early childhood educators offering support services to families during the formative early years. Their work is merely one part of a larger community-strong effort called The SUCCESS Partnership which is comprised of parents, education professionals, nonprofit organizations, businesses, regional partners and community leaders. Over 100 cross-sector organizations collaborate to achieve improved outcomes in education from prenatal to career readiness. There are many ways to participate in improving educational outcomes for all of our children. Join us. You can find out more at www.SUCCESSdac.org
Rorie Measure is the president of the Children’s Reading Alliance, a grassroots citizen-led initiative to encourage family literacy across Doña Ana County. She can be reached at email@example.com
To learn more about Children’s Reading Alliance visit www.childrensreadingalliance.org