Early Learning IS the Difference
Our own Sara Levin gives a personal perspective on early learning.
Did you know at age 6, a typical low-income child has learned 3,000 words, versus 20,000 for a higher-income kid.
The other day my three-year-old coined a new word – “abso-not-ly”. When I realized what she was saying,
No, Mommy, I will abso-not-ly put my socks on!
I was amazed at what her little brain had done with language. My daughter is fortunate to spend her days in a great preschool, where she learns and develops social skills. She also has the advantage of parents who know how to be her coach, advocate and champion. Despite our region’s wealth and creativity, many kids don’t have this opportunity. Kids of color and immigrant or refugee kids are even less likely. At United Way, we focus on giving every child an equal chance to succeed, spending more than $8 million a year on early learning programs that support small kids and their parents.
Why focus on early learning? We know that giving kids a good start in life makes sense. They are more likely to graduate from high school, and will be more able to give their own kids a good start in life. One of the ways we help give kids that good start is through the Parent-Child Home Program a Road Map Project Awards finalist.
PCHP provides home-based individual parent coaching for two years (for kids ages 2 and 3). This year 1,000 families in King County have a home visitor, typically with language and culture ties to the family, visit twice a week. The visitor brings a book or a toy for the toddler, models how to use it, and helps the parent become their child’s first teacher and advocate. Studies of this coaching model have shown it’s successful in helping kids get off to a good start and maintain success in kindergarten and into the future. It can help close that outrageous word gap, and, when combined with high quality preschool, kids enter kindergarten more than 10 months ahead of their age. Can you imagine being 10 months ahead on anything?
Helping kids and parents with a program like PCHP, and then helping them get into preschool and on the path to kindergarten success should be a no brainer. Every kid should have a champion, and who better to be that advocate than their parent. Now, back to begging my daughter to put her socks on….