By DR. DENISE GUY
USD 435 Superintendent
This week Iíd like to briefly highlight the successful early childhood programs that are associated with our district and provide services to our children.
Research abounds which consistently shows that providing high quality early childhood education yields significant long-term benefits.
Programs that support brain and child development have documented high term returns related to increased school readiness, reduced special education, and reduced costs for grade retention/intervention. They also generate long-term returns through higher graduation rates, greater employment and increased lifetime job earnings. All of these add up to a more productive workforce, and a stronger community and economy.
Iíve asked the directors of the school sponsored programs to briefly summarize the unique contribution that their program provides.
USD #305 Heartland Programs, with a site agreement with Abilene Public Schools, provides services to children and families in the Abilene area through Head Start. Head Start is a federal program that promotes school readiness of children by enhancing their cognitive, social and emotional development. Families qualify by meeting the income guidelines or having a child with a diagnosed disability.
Abilene Head Start serves preschool-age children (ages 3-5) and their families. Free preschool, home visits, parent meetings, screenings, and a resource network are among the services Head Start provides. For more information call. óMegan Wagoner, Heartland Programs Family Consultant Specialist.
Parents as Teachers (PAT)
The mission of PAT is to provide the information, support, and encouragement parents need to help their children develop optimally during the crucial early years of life.
The nationally based program was started in 1981 and pioneered the concept of helping parents embrace their important role as their childís first and best teacher; itís curriculum is evidence-based. Certified professional parent educators implement the program emphasizing parent-child interaction, development centered parenting and family well-being.
There are four interrelated and integrated components of the model: personal visits, group connections, screening, and resource networking. USD 435ís PAT serves all families with children (prenatal to age 3) that reside within the school district; it is a voluntary program that is free. Call us at 263-4006 for more information.óLori Portelli, PAT Coordinator
In collaboration with USD#305 Special Education Cooperative, Abilene Public Schools offer PLAY groups supporting early childhood development for children with specialized needs.
Preschool Language and Action activities for Youngsters (ages 3-5), referred to as P.L.A.Y., provides a supportive environment that encourages childrenís full participation in learning through play. The mission of PLAY group is to provide developmentally appropriate activities individualized for childrenís varied abilities to learn independent skills in a safe, fun and educational setting. óNorene Klein, Early Education Specialist
Participating in these programs, along with our local preschools, give children an edge when getting ready to begin their career as K-12 students.
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