Facts for Living: Early years are learning years

By Rebecca McFarland, Frontier Extension Agent

Research has shown and continues to show that the first three years of life are critical in children’s brain development and that quality child care and education in the preschool years can greatly enhance a child’s lifetime potential. Quality early childhood experiences have been linked to positive social skill development and pre-school readiness (Burchinal & Cryer, 2003; Lester et. al, 2010). In addition, an individual’s growth and development into a healthy, successful adult is greatly influenced by the quality of his or her early childhood experiences.

April 6-12 is the Week of the Young Child. Each year, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) designates a week in April to celebrate Week of the Young Child (WOYC). The purpose of the Week of the Young Child is to focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs.

NAEYC first established the Week of the Young Child in 1971, recognizing that the early childhood years (birth through age 8) lay the foundation for children’s success in school and later life. The WOYC is a time to plan how we – as citizens of a community, of a state, and of a nation – will better meet the needs of all young children and their families.

There are many agencies in Franklin County that serve the needs of young children and their families. And if I tried to list all of them, I’m sure I would fail to mention some. However, there is an organization that meets monthly (with the exception of June, July and December) whose mission is to “promote a comprehensive support system that fosters family and professional partnerships so that all children birth to five will have healthy, nurturing environments”. The Franklin County Early Childhood Coordinating Council (FC-ECCC) brings together parents and professionals to focus on the needs of children and families from birth to 5.

To celebrate Week of the Young Child, FC-ECCC is sponsoring a WOYC Festival, 9-11 a.m. Saturday, April 12, at the Don Woodward Community Center, 517 E. Third St., Ottawa. The festival will feature Imagination Playground, crafts, snacks and information about early childhood programs in Franklin County. So, bring your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and neighbors and enjoy a fun-filled morning!

Early childhood is a critical time in a child’s development. High quality, early childhood care and experiences benefit our community, because fewer criminals will be in our justice system, fewer adults on public assistance, fewer teens will be pregnant and we will have a stronger workforce. Remember, today’s children are our leaders of tomorrow.

For more information about the Franklin County Early Childhood Coordinating Council or to join the group, please give me a call at 785-229-3520 or e-mail me at [email protected].


McFarland_RebeccaRebecca McFarland is the Frontier Extension District family and consumer sciences agent. For more information, she can be contacted at the Extension district’s Ottawa office, 1418 S. Main, Suite 2, Ottawa, KS 66067, or call 785-229-3520, or email [email protected].

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