It’s common knowledge that parents are a child’s first teacher. In collaboration with other family members, friends, and neighbors, it’s often parents who provide the care and education for young children prior to entry into formal schooling in kindergarten.
While access to pre-K for three- and four-year-olds is slowly increasing nationally, 57 percent of four-year-olds and 84 percent of three-year-olds still don’t have access to state-funded pre-K or Head Start, meaning that it’s up to parents, caregivers, and the communities in which they live to help equip young children with the tools necessary to be successful once they finally enter the schoolhouse doors for the first time.
In Oakland, the Lotus Bloom Family Resource Center creates physical spaces and develops educational opportunities that enable adults (parents and other caregivers) and young children aged 0-5 to experience learning together. The goal of the center is to increase the school readiness of children prior to the beginning of kindergarten by connecting with families as early as possible. The following video, produced by New America and featured in our new multimedia guidebook, Transforming the Early Education Workforce, highlights the work the center performs in collaboration with Oakland Unified School District:
As Angela Louie Howard, Executive Director of Lotus Bloom, explains in the video, “We found out that a lot of children were coming into elementary school with no preschool or early learning background.” Lotus Bloom offers parent-child playgroups at elementary schools throughout Oakland Unified School District to help young children develop important social-emotional and academic skills and ensure they enter kindergarten ready to learn.
As a result of these playgroups, “children are hearing more language, many of them are coming in reading, they have the academic language for instruction,” says Charles Miller, principal of Allendale Elementary School. And because the children have been in a school environment alongside their parents and caregivers the idea of starting formal schooling once they reach the age of kindergarten doesn’t seem so intimidating.
New America’s new interactive guidebook, which makes key takeaways from the National Academy of Medicine’s 2015 report on the early childhood education workforce more digestible and actionable, includes four additional videos produced by New America, which you can find here.