At United Way of Treasure Valley, we understand children are born learning, and that the early years of life are critical for healthy cognitive and social development. Research indicates that children who start school unprepared are less likely to be reading at grade level in 3rd grade, and subsequently less likely to complete school, graduate from high school, or pursue post-secondary educational opportunities that enable them to live financially independent lives.
“From birth to age 5, a child’s brain develops more than at any other time in life. And early brain development has a lasting impact on a child’s ability to learn and succeed in school and life.” (source)
In 2015, a mother and her 2-year-old daughter, Lola joined an Early Learning Readiness (ELR) program. The mother spoke very little English and Lola was very timid and shy. She would stay by her mother’s side and rarely spoke or engaged with the other children in the program.
When ELR ended in 2016, the program coordinator transitioned to oversee the Guided Discovery Preschool in the nearby school district. She had made a real connection with this family, and with her help, along with one of United Way’s funded Financial Assistance programs, Lola joined the Guided Discovery program.
Lola’s teachers and mother worked together to help prepare her for Kindergarten, develop her social-emotional skills, and give her the opportunity to explore early literacy and math in a safe and nurturing setting. Lola soon grew to become a gregarious, engaged 5 year old who attended Kindergarten later that fall. Lola became a participant in the Inclusion preschool at a nearby elementary school, where typically developing children are enrolled with children in a neighboring district’s Early Intervention Program.
At their preschool graduation ceremony, Lola showed her true growth as a caring and compassionate friend to all. Her classmate was having a difficult time with the noise and excitement of the day’s events and refused to be a part of the celebration. She took his hand, and sweetly said, “It’s ok. I‘ll hold your hand and we can walk outside together.”