Foley: Early childhood education makes long-lasting impact - East Valley Tribune: Back To School

Back to School Foley: Early childhood education makes long-lasting impact

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Posted: Sunday, August 4, 2013 3:27 pm | Updated: 5:07 pm, Sun Aug 4, 2013.

The impact quality early education programs can make in the lives of children and their families will influence their educational journey throughout their lives.

Children learn foundational skills in these early years including reading, writing and language. An appropriate preschool experience is critical for children because brain research has shown that a child’s neurons are developing quickly and intensely from the day they are born through the age of 5.

Providing age-appropriate learning opportunities — pre-reading experiences such as letter and sound recognition, experiences with numbers and counting, and social and emotional experiences designed to build confidence in our youngest learners — establish the foundation for a child’s development and educational career.

The programs prepare young students for the rigors of kindergarten and beyond by providing foundational learning experiences that will allow them to build critical thinking skills, early reading and writing skills, math skills and social skills that will help them learn to work in a classroom community - a classroom family.

In the Higley Unified School District, we believe that college and career readiness begins before kindergarten. This August, the district will welcome preschool children to our two new Early Childhood Development Centers. The Elona P. Cooley Early Childhood Development Center will be on the campus of Cooley Middle School located at 1100 S. Recker Road just north of the Loop 202. The Sue Sossaman Early Childhood Development Center will be on the campus of Sossaman Middle School located at 18655 E. Jacaranda Blvd., southeast of Power and Queen Creek roads.

Our curriculum and preschool programs are diverse. We read. We sing. We dance. We do math. We cook! These learning opportunities emerge through thematic integration and through meaningful context. For example, as we learn about our neighborhoods and community, we will read books about all different kinds of neighborhoods and we’ll learn about the people who live and work in their community and in ours. Our dramatic play center may become a neighborhood market where the children shop for their favorite groceries and produce, weighing vegetables on a scale and counting change back to the customers. Children may draw maps or build models of their neighborhoods or their own home or write letters that they deposit in the classroom mailbox that will later be picked up and delivered by the classroom mail carrier. These thematic, integrated learning experiences are intended to enhance and extend what parents do at home.

To meet the needs of our young learners and their families, we will have three early childhood programs beginning this year in Higley. Brilliant Beginnings is our newest program for 3 and early 4 year olds. Our Kindergarten Prep program is for 4 and 5 year olds who will be attending kindergarten the next year, and our STARS program — Students Together Are Reaching Success — is for our district’s preschool special needs students.

Each one of our state-of-the-art classrooms will have a certified early childhood teacher and a full-time instructional aide. Class size is limited to 20 students to maintain a 10:1 student to teacher ratio. Our programs feature flexible schedules with full- and half-day options, along with the option for before- and after-school care. Flexible schedules give our families more choices to find the program that is just right for them.

To enroll your child, visit our website at husd.org, print and complete the registration packet under the “community education” tab. You will also need a copy of your child’s birth certificate, vaccination records, parent ID and proof of residency to complete the registration packet. Registrations are taken daily at the Community Education offices at 3333 E. Vest Ave., Building A, Gilbert, Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. For more information, call (480) 279-7055.

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