From KUOW Public Radio:
On a sunny Saturday morning, a dozen moms and dads sat around tables in a White Center elementary school library, looking at a PowerPoint slide of a little boy pouring syrup on his pancakes.
"What do you think would happen if I said nothing at all? How much would he put on there?" asked speaker Kellie Morrill, director of the Educare of Greater Seattle P-3 campus.
"Way too much," the parents replied.
"So even though it’s really, really basic, there’s some math and measurement and prediction stuff that’s happening here, and you can verbalize that," Morrill said.
Finding educational opportunities in the quotidian moments of a child's day is one focus of Greenbridge Learning and Education Advocacy Baby Academy, a nine-week program of weekend classes in child development. The program is meant to show parents that education doesn’t begin at school — parents are their children’s first teachers.
In Highline School District, two-thirds of all students come from low-income families, and more than a quarter are still learning English. Those factors can hamper school readiness.
"Our youngest students needed additional supports if they were going to arrive at kindergarten with the skills they needed to be successful," said Anne Arnold, the district's director of early learning. Skills include the ability to count, recite the alphabet and share toys with their peers.
"There’s definitely a sense that schools will take care of things when they arrive, and [that] once children are there they’ll begin their education process," Arnold said. "And what we want to share with parents is that the first five years of that child’s life present a tremendous opportunity to impact the long-term success of that child."
With a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the district partnered with the King County Housing Authority to identify families living in public housing in White Center with babies or babies on the way.
Highline invited those families to take part in the two-month baby academy, where they learn about ways to integrate learning experiences into every aspect of their children's days. That's followed by support for the first three years of their children’s lives.
Read KUOW Public Radio's article "Early learning program emphasizes teaching moments are everywhere, even in the syrup," featuring the King County Housing Authority.