The Long-Run: How Early Learning Can Help Children and the Community

Parents of young kids often wonder about their children’s futures and what they can do to set them on the right track at a young age. That’s where early learning opportunities come into play.

“It is important that families have access to high-quality early learning experiences so their children have a great start and are prepared with the necessary tools for school,” said Crystal Givens, director of programs for Early Learning Indiana’s Child Care Answers program. “Those tools will help children to grow into responsible adults who will provide a positive contribution to society.”

The phrase “early learning” generally refers to the education of children from birth to age five and is used to reinforce the importance of experiences that help children develop academically and socially.

“Research shows that children who have high-quality early learning experiences are more likely to complete high school [and] go on to college, less likely to commit crimes and more likely to be productive citizens,” said Givens. “If children do not have access to quality programs they are less likely to possess the necessary social skills to cope with everyday situations; for instance, getting along well with others. A young child without practice in getting along well with others gets in trouble starting in kindergarten [and] becomes an adult who cannot get along well with others.”

La’ Toya Pitts, deputy director of Christamore House, said, “Early learning provides a foundation for children to be successful throughout their educational careers. Early learning plays a vital role in building confidence in young people so that they are equipped to deal with the various learning situations that they may encounter throughout the learning cycle.”

Pitts added, “Early learning builds confidence, confidence leads to success, success leads to change – and our communities are begging for change. We need change to happen so that our community can succeed.”

Read more on Indy With Kids.

Mentors Can Help Children Bridge the Learning Gap

Once again, the Indianapolis Star’s Our Children, Our City series is shedding light on challenges facing our young people. Below is an excerpt from Robert King’s most recent article for the series. Read the full article: Challenges clear for School 61 kindergartners.

“This vast gulf of readiness for kindergarten was evident in children seated right next to each other in the same class.

SeNyah Bolden, a 5-year-old who showed up with an entourage — her mom, grandma, grandpa, aunt and assorted siblings and cousins — smiles readily and responds to her teacher’s questions. In a congested room, she offers a pleasant “excuse me” to an adult in her path. She is glad to be here. She is a teacher’s dream.

Next to her is a boy who showed up on the first day without anyone. He gave his name to the librarian and the principal, but his teacher could glean only a first initial and his last name. For the first three days, that’s how he was known. He started making a name for himself in other ways.

On his first trip to the library, he wandered to the back of the room and started spinning in a chair. Unresponsive to the librarian, he earned a trip to the principal’s office — two hours into his school career.

It wouldn’t be his last. By the end of his first week, the boy called a lunchroom worker a name that included the F-word and was reported by a bus driver for dangerously waving sticks around other kids at the bus stop.

Two children, as different as night and day, taking their first steps across life’s tender little starting line. Though, clearly, not starting from the same place.”

Photo credit: Alan Petersime / The Star