Early Childhood Education | St. Louis Public Radio

Early Childhood Education

QUINN DOMBROWSKI | FLICKR

People across the United States are focusing on the youngest in their communities during the National Week of the Child.

Sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the week aims to bring attention to early childhood education.

The Child Development Laboratory Center at St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley is celebrating in its own way; first with Tasty Tuesday, where parents and their children made tacos, and then Work Together Wednesday, which involved a clean-up of the playground.

Quinn Dombrowski | Flickr

Missouri is set to increase the amount it spends on public preschool, but education officials say even if the funds are put in the next budget, the small increase will have only a marginal impact.

By hitting a benchmark for education funding during last year’s budget process, state lawmakers set off a provision that requires more funding for pre-K in the following fiscal year.

Provided | Anthony Volkman

For seven years, Ackerman School music teacher Anthony Volkman has spent his summers creating the school's annual holiday program on a budget likely to make The Grinch flinch.

“We had $400,” Volkman said. “We had basic costuming; we made sets out of cardboard and paper.”

But this year, the program will be more elaborate, thanks to a $3,000 grant from the Maritz marketing company. It's not a huge amount — enough for props for kids in wheelchairs, professional lighting and more microphones — but the impact on the kids in this K-8 Special School District building in Florissant is incalculable.

David Wise feeds his 9-month-old son, Pablo, at their home in St. Louis' Tower Grove East neighborhood. Wise quit his part-time job at a coffee shop instead of paying for day care.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

David Wise does the diaper changes and feedings for his 9-month-old son, Pablo. Wise is a stay-at-home dad and they've read hundreds of books together.

There’s a federally-funded Head Start child care center just a few blocks away in St. Louis’ Tower Grove East neighborhood that could care for Pablo. But Wise’s family earns too much to qualify and day care centers that charge money are too expensive for them.

Head Start teacher Chea Wyatt guides Kennydi Harris through an exercise June 23, 2017 at the East St. Louis Kindergarten readiness camp.
File Photo |Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

For the first time this school year, Illinois public schools statewide are required to measure and report how prepared their kindergartners were for school.

The state board of education is collecting the data to better understand what regions are lacking preschool access.

However, area school districts are concerned the reporting process is time consuming. Several expressed doubt that the information will be useful.

Stephen Zwolak discussed how to transition kids into the new enviornment of preschool and kindgergarten on today's St. Louis on the Air.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s that time of year again: children are heading back to school, some for the first time. On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed the ways parents, family members and caregivers can support young children in making a successful transition into school life.

Joining the program to discuss was Stephen Zwolak, the CEO of the LUME Institute and Executive Director of the University City Children’s Center.

Head Start teaching assistant Shavonda Willis helps Jemez Jackson Harris IV close a bracelet he made to practice patterns June 23, 2017.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Ordinarily Head Start teaching assistant Shavonda Willis would be on vacation during the summer. But this year she is spending six weeks at an East St. Louis elementary school teaching 5 and 6 year olds who’ve never been to preschool.

Stephen Zwolak and Tamar Jacobson joined "St. Louis on the Air" host Don Marsh to talk about early childhood education.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio; Provided | Tamar Jacobson

The importance of a child’s early years cannot be overstated. 

“According to all the research of brain development, the earliest years are the most important in terms of laying down the social/emotional wellbeing of children,” said Tamar Jacobson, a professor of Early Childhood Education at Rider University in New Jersey. 

SIUE psychology professor Stephen Hupp lets a class of preschoolers at the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center in East St. Louis touch a robot named Mo after a lesson on human emotions in March 2017.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

One morning at the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center in East St. Louis, an unusual guest arrived to greet more than a dozen preschoolers, who gathered on a ketchup-colored mat, surrounded by cubby shelves, Clifford books and crayon drawings.

The visitor, a white robot with blue patches of armor on its head and joints, stood about 2 feet tall. It had arms and legs, like a person, but its plastic face had no expression.

Doug and Drew Patchin mix paint to match Drew's skin tone before making a handprint at Temple Israel Sunday, Sept. 18 2016.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

A Jewish preschool in Creve Coeur is taking a proactive approach to talking about diversity.

Over the past few months teachers and parents with Temple Israel’s Deutsch Early Childhood Center have taken part in anti-bias workshops taught by the Anti-Defamation League.

The latest on Sunday brought the preschoolers into the mix.

Project manager Miton Clayborn leads an orientation session at SLATE's offices in downtown St. Louis. Participant Sequoi Edwards sits on the right. Edwards hopes the training will help him run a youth-centered nonprofit.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

At an orientation for a new apprenticeship program to train child care workers in St. Louis, Serroge Watt signed up with his 2-year-old daughter, Korra, in mind.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

This year, Springboard, an education non-profit in the St. Louis area, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. The organization helps children develop critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication through the arts, science and humanities. Their services reach 55,000 children in the St. Louis region annually. About 72 percent of schools they serve have economically disadvantaged student populations.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis-based non-profit Parents as Teachers is a local organization that makes a national impact by helping prepare parents to be a child’s first teacher from pregnancy up to kindergarten. We’ve recently discussed the importance of access to early childhood education and a question about the organization came up repeatedly.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

The importance of early childhood care and education is at the forefront of regional leaders’ minds once more as the St. Louis Early Childhood Council presents a program on such matters for the St. Louis region. So where does Missouri stand in providing the most early childhood options possible?

Maurice Quiroga of PNC Bank believes the first five years of a child's life are critical in long-term development.
PNC Bank

Early childhood programs have become a focus for those trying to improve the educational and social development of preschoolers. Finding what works has also been a key component in the attempts to lessen the achievement gap and other challenges some students in underserved communities experience later in life.

St. Louis Economic Development Partnership website

The global manufacturing company Emerson is upping its investment in the Ferguson community to show "renewed commitment" to the place it has been headquartered for 70 years.

"We choose to be here and are committed to this community, especially now in its increased time of need," chairman and CEO David Farr said in a press release. "We...want to help remove barriers so that more of our neighbors can succeed."

teacher with two young children
U.S. Department of Education

Over the years, many studies have shown the benefits of pre-school and early childhood education. Recently those studies have been re-analyzed and confirmed to be accurate and correct. Thus, many states -- whether the voters are predominantly Democrat or Republican -- have implemented pre kindergarten and early childhood education programs.

Missouri Announces More Grants To Child Care Centers

Oct 30, 2013
(via Flickr/katerha)

Missouri has awarded an additional $4.2 million in grants to improve facilities at six child care centers around the state.

Gov. Jay Nixon is touting the funding through the Department of Economic Development as part of what he calls the "Missouri Start Smart" initiative to expand access to early childhood education.

The money will help expand three preschool facilities in the St. Louis area, one in the Macon area in northern Missouri, and one each in the Calhoun and Polo school districts in western Missouri:

(Courtesy University City Children's Center)

The eighth annual concert to benefit the tuition assistance program at University City Children's Center will be held next Saturday at Powell Hall. Melissa Brooks, Associate Principal Cellist with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, pianist Ruth Price with the St. Louis Children's Choirs and pianist Catherine Kautsky, Professor of Music at the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music will all be performing.

The program is titled "Fairy Tales Do Come True," but it is not a concert aimed specifically for children.

(via Flickr/katerha)

During the State of the Union Address in February, President Obama announced a plan for "Preschool for All," which would provide federal funding to states to expand early childhood education. On a recent trip to St. Louis, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan reiterated that early childhood education is a priority for the president.

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