Superintendent: early education valuable
Posted by Terri McHugh on Thursday, April 21st, 2011 at 12:23 pm
Every year during the month of April, the Week of the Young Child is celebrated across the United States. It is a time that is set aside to honor and recognize the special people who make a difference in the lives of young children. The theme for the 2011 Week of the Young Child was “Early Years are Learning Years.”
For more than 30 years, District 54 has remained committed to providing a variety of high-quality early childhood programs. We have seen firsthand the positive impact that early childhood education has had on our students. Building a strong foundation when children are young enables them to be more successful in school.
Two essential goals of our early childhood program are to help preschoolers develop pre-readiness literacy and social skills. Children who enter kindergarten with preschool experiences have been found to have larger vocabularies, possess greater confidence and typically start ahead of those who have not attended an early childhood program. Research has shown for many years that effective early childhood programs help children develop both the academic readiness and the social skills that are necessary for a lifetime of success.
A quality preschool experience provides many opportunities for young children to learn new skills that expand their interests and develop a sense of pride in who they are. Studies have found that children who participated in a strong preschool program are more likely to graduate from high school, pursue higher education, obtain meaningful employment and be productive members of society.
Research studies have also concluded that there is a high rate of economic return on effective early childhood programs. For every $1 invested in early childhood education, there is nearly an $11 return to society over the life of the child. This is equivalent to an 18 percent annual return on investment.
District 54 is extremely proud of the wide range of early childhood programs available to children ranging from birth to age five and to their families. Preschool children who are not progressing at the typical rate anticipated for success in kindergarten are eligible for services that are funded by a grant from the Illinois State Board of Education. We are hopeful that these grant dollars will be restored to next year’s state budget, allowing us to continue to offer these critical services.
Young children who qualify to receive special education are also provided a variety of preschool services. In addition, several years ago, at the request of our parents, District 54 started a parent-paid preschool program that is fully funded though tuition that is paid by parents who choose to have their child participate.
This year, more than 40 community agencies, public and private organizations, and local businesses have partnered with District 54’s early childhood program. Their ongoing support is greatly appreciated and vital to its success.
If “Early Years are Learning Years” – as this year’s theme states – then preschool children who live in Schaumburg Township are extremely fortunate. Please join us this month and throughout the year as we honor and thank our dedicated staff, supportive community partners and devoted parents who are all part of making District 54’s early childhood programs exceptional!