Commentary: Who Benefits From Early Childhood Education? We All Do.

Much has been said about the people who have been left behind in our country. The sad truth is that many people left behind often start out as children who never had a chance. Child’s Path’s mission is to ensure this does not happen in Collier County by providing affordable, high-quality early childhood education. Our students are predominantly from lower income families that rarely have access to early childhood education. To address this, we provide 75% of our children with partial scholarships. There are over 4,000 children like them in Collier County. Hard to believe this exists in a seemingly prosperous community. But, remember our community relies on low=paid essential workers who have children. These are many of the children we serve.

What does Child’s Path do? We offer year-round programs for 400 children (a number we hope to double over the next five years) using teachers who focus on the whole child, addressing cognitive skills, social and emotional development, creativity and an appreciation of lifelong learning. To prepare children for the world they will inhabit, there is a heavy emphasis on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math).

Our central teaching philosophy is based on Reggio Emilia, an approach in which children construct their own learning, while emphasizing social collaboration and using the child’s environment as a teacher. The result is that  the majority of our  children graduate from our programs each year more life ready.  Also, 83% of our graduates are kindergarten ready versus the county-wide average of 43%. With this solid foundation we increase the likelihood that they will graduate from high school, get a good job, and become solid contributors to our community. Research shows that children that attend high quality early education programs are twice as likely to attend college and earn higher wages.

 In the end, we all benefit: the children, their families, and Collier County.

Seymour Burchman is Board Vice-Chair at Child’s Path.

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