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Granite State Rumblings: The Importance Of Investing In Early Childhood Education Programs

Image by Cole24_ FLICKR

Image by Cole24_ FLICKR

This is the Week of the Young Child, an annual celebration sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The purpose of the Week of the Young Child (WOYC) is to focus public attention on the importance of early learning and to celebrate the early childhood programs, teachers, and policies that deliver early childhood education to young children.

NAEYC first established the Week of the Young Child 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 of the Young Child is a time to plan how we—as citizens of a community, of a state, and of a nation—will better meet the needs of all young children and their families. The theme this year is Early Years are Learning Years.

Parents are their children’s first and most important teachers. But today, statistics show that children are spending more time in child care programs than ever before. Parents and caregivers both play an important role in the development of children.

Whether the caregiver is a relative, neighbor or child care provider, the person responsible for direct child care is shaping the experiences that encourage the brain to develop. Every caregiver is a potential source of love, learning, comfort and stimulation. Research has shown that children who receive nurturing care in quality early childhood programs have a better chance at learning success.

New research has led to important discoveries of how the brain develops. By the time a baby is born, he or she will have 100 billion brain cells. These brain cells are not yet connected in networks necessary for learning. Through a variety of experiences, the networks develop and the brain is literally wired for learning. A child’s early experiences are critical to the learning process because brain development is nonstop. This is one reason why quality child care is so important.

It also makes economic good sense. Researchers have found that every dollar invested in Early Childhood Education can produce savings of $8 – $14 dollars to the program participants and society as a whole.

GROWING UP GRANITE

Have you heard of Watch Me Grow?

The following information is from their website.

Watch Me Grow is coordinated by the NH Department of Health and Human Services and the WMG Steering Committee, which includes representatives from state agencies and public and private organizations. WMG locations and their partners throughout the state offer screening activities to families.

Watch Me Grow (WMG) helps New Hampshire families to ensure their child’s brightest future by tracking his or her growth and development. It is New Hampshire’s developmental screening, referral and information system for families of children ages birth to six years.

It offers families:

  • Information about children’s health and development
  • Developmental screening questionnaires based on the child’s age
  • Tips on how to help children grow and learn
  • Timely connections to appropriate services, supports, and resources when needed.

The Watch Me Grow developmental screening system provides high quality, accessible and coordinated developmental screening, information and referral services and supports to New Hampshire families of young children (birth to 6 years), ensuring that children have opportunities to reach their maximum potential.

What is Developmental Screening?

Like a yardstick for measuring height, developmental screening is a tool that helps families measure their children’s development through the early years, including:

  1. How children use their hands, bodies, and senses (motor skills).
  2. How children think and solve problems (cognitive skills).
  3. How children use language – speaking, listening, and understanding communication skills).
  4. How children express their emotions and relate to others (social and emotional skills).
  5. How children help take care of their own needs, like feeding and dressing (personal).

Developmental screening is important for all young children. We know that children grow and learn at their own rate, but it’s still important to assure that they are developing as expected. Developmental screening is a fast and fun way to:

  • Make sure children are on track;
  • Learn about what’s coming next in a child’s development;
  • Discover new ways to help children grow and learn.

To get a screening questionnaire, NH families can call The Family Resource Connection at (603) 271-1188, or toll-free from within NH at (800) 298-4321 or click this link to find a location near you.

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About MaryLou Beaver

New Hampshire Campaign Director Every Child Matters Education Fund
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