future success

3 Benefits of Attending Pre-School

If you find yourself wondering about the benefits pre-school (or pre-K) has on young children, you’re not alone! Research has shown that pre-K offers children early growth opportunities that play a vital role in reaching their maximum potential. Here are three positive effects of attending pre-K that are easy to learn, remember, and share with others in your circle of influence.

1. It Helps Kids Become Academic Superstars

Did you know that students who attend a pre-K program score higher on reading and math tests than children who only receive parental care? It’s true! To raise a future voracious reader or a STEM star, enrolling kids in pre-K gives them a leg up on these goals.

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2. It Teaches Kids to Play and Work with Others

One of the most important skills in life is the ability to collaborate and work with other people. The best way for kids to learn to get along with others is through consistent interactions with other children under the guidance of caring adults. Pre-K gives them exposure to how the world works: how to put someone else’s needs in front of their own, how to listen, how to ask questions, and how to share. All of these skills lead to a thriving, healthy being.

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3. It Gives Kids a Better Chance at Future Success

Children who participated in high-quality pre-K programs were more likely to graduate from high school, compared with 60 percent of children who didn’t. This fact comes from a long-term study called the Perry Preschool Project, which followed low-income children who had enrolled in pre-K over multiple decades. Better futures for kids start when they’re very young!

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On My Way Pre-K: 3 Things You Need to Know

On My Way Pre-K is Indiana’s free, funded Pre-K program available to eligible 4-year-olds in select counties, including Delaware County. BY5 is the lead agency for the program in Delaware County, but partners closely with Huffer CCR&R and other local partners to make sure the program is a success throughout our community.

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1. The program now has rolling admission.

Previously, families could only enroll their child in pre-school at set times throughout the year. Now, however, the program is allowing children to enroll as long as there are spots available—and there are still plenty of spots available in Delaware County.

2. Delaware County houses over 20 providers.

The list of On My Way Pre-K providers keeps growing and includes sites at diverse locations, like childcare centers, and home daycares, and four elementary schools in Muncie (South View, Grissom, East Washington Academy, and Muncie Area Career Center). This wide variety of sites allows families to choose the Pre-K program that’s right for their needs and desires.

3. Delaware County's new On My Way coordinator is here to hep families. 

Delaware County’s On My Way Pre-K Coordinator, Haylie Reese, has worked exclusively since last fall to help families and providers access On My Way Pre-K. Families can call or text Haylie.

MCS Pre-School Collaboration: A High-Quality Partnership You Need To Know About

In 2017, Muncie Community Schools (MCS), Huffer CCR&R, and BY5 came together in a unique opportunity funded by the George and Frances Ball Foundation to expand MCS’s pre-school offerings. Research shows that high-quality early learning experiences can have positive effects on school readiness, and that’s what the MCS pre-school project set out to do—provide more children access to high-quality pre-school.
 
2018 saw the pre-school partnership between these entities become a reality. Since the beginning of the year, the MCS pre-school classrooms—which exist at Grissom, South View, East Washington Academy, and Muncie Area Career Center—have filled. As of November 2018, all are rated as Paths to QUALITY Level 3 Centers.

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What is Paths to QUALITY?

According to childcareindiana.org, Paths to QUALITY is Indiana’s voluntary rating system for early care and education programs. It is a free resource to help families make informed decisions and to help early care and education providers improve the quality of their programs.

From the beginning, BY5, MCS, and Huffer CCR&R worked together to ensure that all MCS classrooms were following the rating systems closely.

Why does Paths to QUALITY matter?

Centers that abide by the Paths to QUALITY rating system show that they are committed to the children in their care. Level 3 Centers—like the ones in MCS—must provide structured curriculum and enriching learning environments in addition to meeting basic safety requirements. This means that the Paths to QUALITY Level 3 classrooms in MCS are giving children a better chance to come to school ready.

How else is this partnership being supported?

Because each classroom is rated as a Paths to QUALITY Level 3 Center, this means that the classrooms are also eligible for reimbursement through the On My Way Pre-K program. Each time an eligible On-My-Way Pre-K student enrolls in an MCS pre-school classroom, the classroom receives a reimbursement that helps make the classroom sustainable.

 
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BY5's Little Learners Passport

The Little Learners Passport was developed by the BY5 Early Learning Environments Task Force as a way to help young children in Delaware County positively engage their community, while simultaneously helping them to develop the needed skills to be successful in Kindergarten. 

The Passport is a small booklet that contains 100 simple, hands-on activities that children can do with their families—everything from preparing a meal, exploring textures, and even visiting local landmarks. The Passport activities, which can be completed any time before a child enters Kindergarten, are meant to prod children to ask questions, learn simple skills, and engage with the world around them.

As an incentive to complete the booklet, kids can receive small rewards after completing 30 items and again at 60 items.

After all of the 100 items in the Passport are completed, kids complete one last item: register for Kindergarten at their local elementary school! Once a child registers for school, they can tear out the small certificate in the back of the Passport and contact BY5 to receive a grand prize.

Recently, a media blitz was launched in an effort to educate the community about the full spectrum of educational opportunities available to parents and caregivers to prepare their children for Kindergarten.

The blitz was timed to coincide with multiple school systems’ Kindergarten round-ups. Radio and Facebook social media were the media platforms utilized for their reach and ability to engage the listeners and viewers. Specific photography and graphics (as seen in this article) were chosen for the social posts to illustrate outside playing and learning, as well as showcasing children learning valuable, needed skills that will prepare them for success in Kindergarten

Learn more about this initiative and view a complete list of pick-up locations.

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Being an Educational Influence for Your Child

A child’s brain is 90% developed by the time they turn five. As a parent, you are your child’s first and most important teacher. By fostering an environment of learning at a young age, you can help further your child’s educational opportunities, increase their confidence, and more.

Ways to create positive outcomes through education:  

  • Read stories with your child. Even if they can’t talk yet, they are still absorbing information. As they get older, let them turn the pages, or ask them to read simple words.

  • Have discussions. Ask your child to participate in decision-making processes, or ask them about their feelings.

  • Talking, talking, and more talking! Talking to your child from the time they are born helps build trust and engages them with the world around them.

  • Show an interest in your child’s learning and education. Encourage them to explore new things, ask them questions, and show in interest in things they create.

In partnership with Vroom, BY5 works toward achieving parent success, school readiness and grade-level reading. 

Vroom, with strong support from the Bezos Family Foundation, provides materials and resources to aid families in recognizing when their behavior is stimulating their child’s brain in a positive way. Through these efforts, Vroom strives to inform parents that they have the skills to benefit their child’s development. For more information and Vroom videos, visit www.joinvroom.org/about.

The Importance of Family Engagement

By engaging with your child, you are helping improve their overall socio-emotional well-being and behavior. As a parent, you already have what it takes to provide your child with proper developmental opportunities.

Ways to create positive outcomes with family engagement:  

  • Involve your child in discussions, tasks, and decision-making.

  • Show warmth and sensitivity to your child and those around you.

  • Be a good role model.

  • Make eye contact when talking.

  • Be specific with directions when asking something of child.

  • Ask follow-up questions.

  • Allow your child to help with tasks, such as list-making, chores, grocery shopping, and meal time.

  • Play with your child.

In partnership with Vroom, BY5 works toward achieving parent success, school readiness, and grade-level reading. 

Vroom, with strong support from the Bezos Family Foundation, provides materials and resources to aid families in recognizing when their behavior is stimulating their child’s brain in a positive way. Through these efforts, Vroom strives to inform parents that they have the skills to benefit their child’s development. For more information and Vroom videos, visit www.joinvroom.org/about.

A Healthy Home Environment Sets Children up for Success

Your home environment can play a crucial role in preparing your child for a successful future. Children are natural observers, so having a healthy home environment can set a child up for success, including high school graduation, decrease in teen parenthood, and even an increased chance at adult employment.

Ways to accomplish this are:

  • Decrease stress within the household.

  • Make use of available resources to overcome obstacles. Find Family Navigators in your community.

  • Show warmth and sensitivity.

  • Have a routine in order to reduce chaos.

  • Share book readings and discussions.

  • Allow your child to explore safely.

  • Limit exposure to screen time (TV, iPads, etc.)

  • Keep background noise to a minimum, especially when talking with children.

In partnership with Vroom, BY5 works toward achieving parent success, school readiness and grade-level reading. 

Vroom, with strong support from the Bezos Family Foundation, provides materials and resources to aid families in recognizing when their behavior is stimulating their child’s brain in a positive way. Through these efforts, Vroom strives to inform parents that they have the skills to benefit their child’s development. For more information and Vroom videos, visit www.joinvroom.org/about.

By Birth: Skills Your Child Should Be Learning When They Are Born

Newborns are hope and joy personified. As consumers of information—always watching, listening, touching, tasting, and smelling—they are bundles of potential and need. It’s important that babies are nurtured and encouraged to learn and grow from the moment they’re born. In fact, 75% of a child’s brain will develop by age three. As a parent, you are your child’s first and most important teacher.

What Can You Do to Help Your Child Learn and Grow?

  • Interact with your baby. Even though your baby cannot talk yet, they are learning language when you interact with them.

  • Respond to your baby’s needs quickly. It helps them understand that they can trust the world around them, and—we promise—you can’t spoil a baby.

  • Talk with your baby about everything you are doing. When you are at the grocery store, folding laundry, picking them up and moving them, the more you talk with them, the more they will be learning.

  • Read books to them. Point out pictures, and make up stories about them. When they are older, let them flip the pages.

  • Lovingly touch your baby often.

  • Hold your baby.

  • Provide consistent routines for your baby. Bedtime, bath time, and feeding time are great opportunities to begin routines.

  • Visit your baby’s physician regularly.

  • Limit exposure to “screen time.” Babies need to interact with real people, not TVs or tablets.

  • Provide a safe sleep environment for your baby in their own crib or Pack 'n Play. The space should be free from blankets, bumper pads, and stuffed animals. Put your child to sleep on their back.

  • Request a Developmental Screening from your physician when your baby is 9 months old.

  • Limit background noises when interacting with your baby. Radio or TV can interrupt your baby's ability to focus on you.

  • Provide lots of opportunities for safe exploration on the ground. Babies need time to build their muscles.

  • Watch your baby for cues for when they are stressed, hungry, or upset. Respond to these needs.

  • Limit stress in the environment as much as possible. A baby's developing brain can be impacted by stress in their environment.

  • Take your baby outside for walks.

  • If child care is needed, use your local child care resource and referral office to learn about high-quality options in your area.

  • Encourage play with your child. Children learn best through play!

By 1: Skills Your Child Should Have by Age One

By the time babies turn one, they are curious, observant, energetic, determined, focused, and sometimes stubborn. At this age, they love to explore and are eager to engage with the world.

So much growth has happened in the last year, and so much more is going to happen this year as well. Your baby watches and learns from everything you do, so be a good role model and talk to your child all the time. Create safe environments for your baby to begin to explore the world around them.

What Can You Expect from Your Child?

  • Eating more. Be sure that you offer your one-year-old lots of nutritious options to eat, and have them join you at the dinner table.

  • Desiring to walk or crawl to new places of interest. Keep your toddler out of harm’s way, especially around windows and stairs.

  • Language skills are just beginning to emerge. Watch for cues for what your toddler may want or need. Pointing, reaching, putting arms up, pulling on your pant leg, or crying are ways your toddler is communicating to you. Be sure to use words when responding to those needs and wants.

  • Beginning to understand “pretend” play, but for them it is real. They love to begin acting out what they see adults around them doing, such as cooking, cleaning, and eating.

  • Learning by playing. Provide lots of opportunities for your toddler to play, as this is one of the most prominent ways young children learn.

  • Beginning to show frustration. A lot of this has to do with lack of ability to communicate and their independence emerging. When a toddler gets frustrated, stay calm and redirect them or remove them from a situation to get them to focus on something else.

  • Beginning to speak. Most children talking at age one can say three words, such as "mama," "dada," or "ball." Always expand on what the child says, placing their one word into a two or three-word sentence, such as:

    • Oh, you want the red ball?

    • Are you telling dada "bye bye"?

  • Toddlers do really well when there are routines established. They can begin to understand what comes next. Make sure certain times of your day have routines, such as eating, getting ready in the morning, dropping off at child care, bath time, and bedtime.

What Can You Do to Help Your Child Learn and Grow?

  • Read to your toddler. Many times, parents think that because a toddler quickly turns the pages of a book, or even drops it, they are not interested in reading. Keep reading and pointing out pictures; your toddler is learning so much during these interactions.

  • Toddlers' physical abilities grow significantly during the year they are one. Give them safe opportunities to practice those skills by walking, running, and climbing.

  • In order for toddlers to learn, they have to practice a skill many times. Give them a chance to practice. By 18 months, your toddler should be able to begin drinking small amounts of fluids from a cup (without a lid), with only a small amount of spilling. Many parents don’t like the mess of a cup without a lid but a toddler needs to practice drinking from a cup without a lid to learn how to do it. Give them a cup when they are seated in a high chair or at a table.

  • Keep background noise to a minimum. Turn your TV at home and music in the car down or off so you can talk with your child about what is going on around them. The background noises make it hard for your child to focus on your words.

  • Continue to keep regularly scheduled doctor appointments.

  • Ask for your child to have Developmental Screening done by the doctor, as well as a Lead Screening.

  • You are the most important person in your child’s life. Be sure to take care of yourself to be the best parent you can be. Children can be affected by stress in their environments from a very young age. Try to create a low-stress environment for the family.

By 2: Skills Your Child Should Have by Age Two

Life at age two can be a bit complex and overwhelming at times. As these young toddlers are trying to understand the world, their drive and curiosity sometimes looks like trouble. But curious two-year-olds should not be underestimated.

What Can You Expect from Your Child?

  • Showing more independence

  • Showing more defiant behavior (doing what he/she was told not to do)

  • Pointing to objects or pictures when named

  • Following simple instructions, such as "Drink your milk."

  • Building towers that consist of four or more blocks

  • Beginning to sort objects by their shapes and colors

  • Walking on tiptoes

  • Walking up and down stairs, using a railing for assistance

  • Beginning to run

  • Kicking a ball

  • Catching a ball to their chest

  • Carrying a toy or handful of toys while walking

  • Starting to use one hand more than the other

  • Using sentences with 2-4 words

  • Using words to express feelings

  • Imitating behavior of others, especially older children

  • Looking at books by themselves

What Can You Do to Help Your Child Learn and Grow?

  • Build your child's vocabulary using pictures, picture books, storytelling, dramatic play, etc.

  • Allow for outdoor play opportunities that involve running, climbing, and jumping.

  • Provide your child with time to play with friends through arranged play dates, preschool, or childcare

  • Limit your child's screen time exposure

  • Encourage imaginative play/dramatic play. For example, encourage your child to walk like a cat, or create a place where they can create their own play.

  • Allow your child to ask questions, and provide answers that don’t leave them wondering. Be direct when answering their question so that they are not questioning the truth behind it later on.