Thursday, January 5, 2012

Community Joins Forces to Focus on Early Childhood Education

The community of Danville, VA realizes the importance of early childhood education, especially the transition from daycare and preschool to kindergarten.

In Danville, VA, parents and community members gathered with educators earlier this week to discuss the importance of transitioning children from daycare or preschool into kindergarten. The event, “Building Bridges to Kindergarten,” attracted over 200 people, of which included Jason Downer, an associate professor and school readiness expert at the University of Virginia.

Downer believes that, “when children start off behind, the gap widens overtime.” In addition, he knows that both parents and teachers need to be involved in early childhood development in order for children to be ready for kindergarten. According to the findings at Smart Beginnings, 85 percent of a child’s critical thinking skills are developed by age 5.

Since 75 percent of children in Danville have working parents, what’s learned in daycare can be critical to their future. However, the transition from daycare to kindergarten can be difficult. With increased academic demands, changing social environments and less time with family, children can have trouble adjusting.

Even if both parents do work full-time, making a concerted effort to visit your child in school and talking with their teachers after school can make a significant impact. In addition, teachers can ease the transition by suggesting after-school activities that they think the child would like.

“What we are asking folks to do is change and to collaborate at higher levels,” said Ann Stratton, Smart Beginnings executive director. It’s easy for people who don’t have young children to feel like early childhood education doesn’t have anything to do with them, but early education is the future of every community and has long-term economic benefits.

Danville, VA should be viewed as a model community for others to follow in their footsteps. Being proactive about early childhood education and exploring different options about improving the transition from daycare/preschool to kindergarten can truly have an effect on our youth that could make or break their future success.

How has your community addressed early childhood education, or what do you think should be done to improve? Share your thoughts by commenting below, or on our Facebook or twitter pages.

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