Parenting is one of the most significant responsibilities a human can take on and the impacts are felt far and wide. Most of us know this and take the role very seriously. The thing is, even the most well-intentioned don’t always get it right. If you are expecting or have a child aged zero to five, there are tools available to support you.
Early childhood learning is more important than you might realize
The human brain’s development from birth to five is the most active period of development in our life cycle and therefore, the experiences during that time have the greatest impact on the child’s life. The more positive and constructive those experiences, the more likely the child is to be successful. Extrapolate this to a community perspective and you can see how early intervention is beneficial for all of us.
Early childhood learning programs in Bonner County (and nationwide) start early and have promising results in most cases.
A quick little science primer on the baby brain:
From the age of one to three, the brain is super busy with 86 billion neurons connecting and creating pathways. By the age of three, if those connections aren’t used and reinforced, they are lost. Experiences strengthen those connections. They literally shape our brains. and like an old dog with her tricks, it’s much harder to repair poor connections later. To that end, the single biggest impact we can have on the baby is to provide social interaction from loving and supportive adults.
It’s not that complicated.
But we know family life is complicated. Families don’t look like they used to a generation ago or even centuries ago when villages raised the children together while parents shared the duties of hunting, gathering, protecting and cooking. Now, we have single parents struggling to make ends meet while working multiple jobs; blended families with working parents; and our lives are busy like never before.
These parents need options and they need to be high-quality options.
Quality early childhood learning improves the baby’s cognitive, social and character skills making sure they are ready for Kindergarten. From there, the trajectory is set. If they arrive at Kindergarten grade-ready, they are more likely to be proficient by the end of third grade. Third grade is a key milestone because studies show if children are not reading at grade level by the end of third grade, they are more likely to fall behind and a higher percentage will engage in negative activities like drugs and crime. (Source).
You can see how important it is to start early with the proper foundation. Our community as a whole does a great job of making sure you are covered from the moment the baby arrives at Kindergarten and further. We want to talk about one program today:
How do you get ready for Kindergarten? The aptly named READY! For Kindergarten workshop in Sandpoint is a free program for parents that focuses on three crucial areas of child development.
- Language & Literacy/Early Reading Skills: Fall session
- Literacy/Math & Reasoning: Winter session
- Literacy/Social & Emotional Development: Spring (Coming up March 7!)
While parents can attend any workshop as a stand-alone class, those who begin attending READY! workshops soon after their baby is born can enjoy up to 15 unique, FREE workshops. READY!’s parent classes are designed to build upon each other; to “ramp up” each year as the child grows, beginning in early infancy and continuing until the spring session before kindergarten typically begins.
Ninety percent of the children who’s parents attend READY! are at or above readiness when they enter. Compare that to 40 percent of the general population who tests in the readiness category and you can see, we have done everything possible to make this not complicated.
PAFE funds this program because we recognize the importance of early childhood learning and that it starts at the home.
Our next workshop is Saturday, March 7th and you can register here.
We look forward to seeing you. and can’t wait to see what our next generation does in this community.