Friday, October 31, 2014

MCFARLAND: Early years are learning years

By REBECCA MCFARLAND, Reaching Out | 4/2/2014

Research has shown and continues to show that the first three years of life are critical in children’s brain development, and that quality child care and education in the preschool years can greatly enhance a child’s lifetime potential. Quality early childhood experiences have been linked to positive social skill development and pre-school readiness. In addition, an individual’s growth and development into a healthy, successful adult is greatly influenced by the quality of his or her early childhood experiences.

Next week, April 6-12, is the Week of the Young Child. Each year, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) designates a week in April to celebrate Week of the Young Child. The purpose of the Week of the Young Child is to focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs.  

Research has shown and continues to show that the first three years of life are critical in children’s brain development, and that quality child care and education in the preschool years can greatly enhance a child’s lifetime potential. Quality early childhood experiences have been linked to positive social skill development and pre-school readiness. In addition, an individual’s growth and development into a healthy, successful adult is greatly influenced by the quality of his or her early childhood experiences.

Next week, April 6-12, is the Week of the Young Child. Each year, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) designates a week in April to celebrate Week of the Young Child. The purpose of the Week of the Young Child is to focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs.  

The Week of the Young Child was first established in 1971, recognizing that the early childhood years (birth through age 8) lay the foundation for children’s success in school and later life. The week is a time to plan how we — as members of a community, of a state, and of a nation — will better meet the needs of all young children and their families.

There are many agencies in Franklin County that serve the needs of young children and their families. And if I tried to list all of them, I’m sure I would fail to mention some. However, there is an organization that meets monthly (with the exception of June, July and December) and has a mission is to “promote a comprehensive support system that fosters family and professional partnerships so that all children birth to five will have healthy, nurturing environments.”  The Franklin County Early Childhood Coordinating Council brings together parents and professionals to focus on the needs of children and families from birth to age 5.

To celebrate Week of the Young Child, the council is sponsoring a festival 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. April 12 at the Don Woodward Community Center, 517 E. Third St., Ottawa. The event is set to feature Imagination Playground, crafts, snacks and information about early childhood program in Franklin County. So, bring your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and neighbors and enjoy a fun-filled morning.

Early childhood is a critical time in a child’s development. High-quality, early childhood care and experiences benefit our community, because fewer criminals will be in our justice system, fewer adults on public assistance, fewer teens will be pregnant and we will have a stronger workforce. Remember, today’s children are our leaders of tomorrow. For more information about the Franklin County Early Childhood Coordinating Council or to join the group, please give me a call or e-mail me.

Rebecca McFarland is the family and consumer sciences extension agent for Frontier Extension District No. 11, which serves Franklin County. For more information, call her at (785) 229-3520 or email rmcfarla@ksu.edu

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