Psychologists and educational researchers agree that early childhood learning, particularly before age five, is integral in academic and social growth. Having a potent early learning program can put a child at a distinct advantage, and being bereft of one can conversely hamper a child’s integration and evolution. A parent’s role in guiding that learning for their children, both in helping them and setting a good example, is crucial.
One of the many ways United Way is joining the fight against our community’s most critical problems is by providing early educational mentoring to the parents of children through Born Learning, an initiative of Women United. This gives parents the scaffolding they need to best help their children and create a positive learning environment in the home.
As part of the initiative, Born Learning Academies offer a series of six workshops for parents with children birth to age five. The workshops teach how to prepare children for school, starting when they’re born, through building relationships, developing children’s language skills, nutrition and health, how children learn, and routines and learning on the go. Free dinner and free child care are provided during the workshops, and they include incentives for kids and parents. Also, each family that attends five of the six workshops is awarded a tablet pre-loaded with age-appropriate apps for children.
“The Born Learning Academies are important for kids because this is the timeframe where their minds and brains are developing on a daily basis, and building that foundation is really going to benefit them in the long run,“ said Sarah Schenk, Born Learning Academy facilitator at Children’s Village West in Davenport. Schenk and her husband attended one of the first Born Learning Academies, learning additional tips and resources to help with their 3-year-old son.
“I am a firm believer that we are here to help parents any way we can to make their lives a little bit easier,” Schenk said.
Heidi Huiskamp-Collins, a Women United Charter Woman, has seen the success of Born Learning. “I have been blessed enough to have seen so many parents and children succeed through this program,” Huiskamp-Collins said.
“If children are exposed to caring, nurturing adults who teach them, it’s very beneficial to them,” Huiskamp-Collins said. “I am really passionate about this program because I’ve seen the results. Every child deserves the same advantages and opportunities and it’s been shown that children who are in this program have better social and academic skills that make them more successful later in life.”
Born Learning resources that help parents include Born Learning Trails. Also, tips are provided to make every day moments teaching moments via texts to parents and a yearly calendar.
Huiskamp-Collins summed up the importance of supporting early learning efforts. “I see the impact United Way can have on so many people.”
United Way fights for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in the Quad Cities.
We have one life. To live better, we must Live United.