You’ll be hard pressed to find anyone in the educational field who doesn’t agree that early learning is one of the most critical components to a child’s future success.
From birth to five, the brain grows at a rapid rate. Providing kids with high quality, stimulating educational environments set them up for achievement in school and adulthood. Kids who do not receive early learning often have lower standardized test scores and higher drop-out rates.
A Harvard researcher asserts: The first years of life are important because what happens in early childhood can matter for a lifetime … Stable, responsive, nurturing relationships and rich learning experiences in the earliest years provide lifelong benefits for learning, behavior and both physical and mental health.
We live in a state that recognizes the need for funding in the area of early learning. The San Juan County Early Learning Coalition is one of five counties represented in the regional Northwest Early Learning Coalition based out of Anacortes. The coalition’s purpose is to coordinate partnerships with early learning providers, align local efforts with statewide priorities and build public engagement. In conjunction with the coalition and local education programs, the county council has proclaimed April 24-28 the “Week of the Young Child.”
We also live in a county that recognizes gaps in government funding. Thank you to the community members who step up to fill those needs. Here is just a small sampling of those endeavors.
On San Juan Island, the Family Umbrella Group provides preschool scholarships to relieve the financial burden on families. The group serves 16 to 20 families per year and pays 95 percent of the tuition cost. The organization’s annual fundraiser is on Friday, April 28.
For the past three years, the Early Childhood Education initiative on Orcas has provided funding to improve student outcomes by focusing on key areas for preschool improvement. The collaboration between three Orcas state-licensed preschools, private funders and advisors has resulted in drastically improved test scores. To continue its work, the initiative is seeking bridge funding to develop a collaborative, long-term strategy to continue the program (more information is available at www.orcasislandece.org).
If you want a better tomorrow for our communities and our country, it starts with giving children the foundation to thrive.