Keeping our Promises to Children

I grew up in the Central Valley of California, the eldest of eight children.  My family benefitted from public assistance in a variety of ways.  There were times when the electricity was shut off or there was little food in the house.  I have vivid memories of pots and pans blackened from cooking in the living room fireplace when the gas hadn’t been paid.  I remember the large plastic bag of frozen burritos delivered to the house by a local charity organization when our supply of government cheese, beans and rice had run out.  Without the financial support from my grandparents, tax benefits that help the poor, and "food stamps" (the precursor to SNAP), or other relief assistance – programs that many families rely on, today – we would not have survived.  It is likely, too, that without government assistance, I would not have gone to college.  But, today, all of that is under attack. Congress continues its relentless assault on children by attempting to destroy the health coverage on which most poor and low-income kids depend. Last week, a tax plan was unveiled a tax plan that would further erode what actually makes our country great:  the assurance that every child, regardless of the zip code in which she was born, has the opportunity for a promising future.

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A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste

Almost 45 years after its debut, that slogan for the United Negro College Fund remains one of the most recognized in American advertising.  With its motto, "The Early Years Matter," Ready At Five is focused on a similar, enduring message, but rather on the 'front end' of a child's developing mind.  In the first years of life, more than 1 million neural connections form in the brain every second, building the brain's architecture and providing the foundation for all future learning, behavior, and health.  Barriers detrimental to that brain's educational achievement can start early, including those caused by poverty, caregiver mental illness, child maltreatment, and low maternal education.  By the time that child reaches kindergarten, he is already behind his peers.  Time and time again, the adverse effects of his gap only multiplies unless there are interventions.  One proven, successful intervention is high-quality preschool.  When we provide all children with equitable opportunities to attend high-quality preschool, we ameliorate some of the risks to their learning and development.  Even economists illustrate that the early years matter, finding that there is a huge return on the public investment when children from low-income families attend high-quality early childhood programs.

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Register for a Professional Development "Early Math Matters" Event in Harford County

"Early Math Matters" a professional development event featuring Keynote Speaker Dr. Geetha Ramani, will take place on Saturday, November 18, 2017 from 8:30am-3pm at Harford Community College in Bel Air, MD.  Dr. Ramani, an Associate Professor in the Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology at the University of Maryland, College Park, will speak about the Importance of Mathematics in Early Childhood in the morning, followed by two training sessions and lunch.  Please click here to register for the event.   


A Million New Opportunities

“I firmly believe that we can close the school readiness gap and prepare our children for college and careers through high-quality early learning experiences, but we have more work to do…”

Karen B. Salmon, Ph.D., State Superintendent of Schools

As a kindergarten teacher, I loved the first day of school. After weeks of stapling corrugated border around bulletin boards, stringing yarn through the holes of the new name tags, setting up beautiful and enticing learning centers, and organizing the critical tools for my students – new boxes of unbroken crayons with 24 dazzling colors, writer’s workshop books, pens and pencils, glue sticks, and rubber-handled scissors with no sharp edges – the day had finally arrived. The morning was crisp, and it was the earliest in the day I had seen over the past weeks of the long, endless – and now almost forgotten – summer. Everything smelled new and full of a million new opportunities. I greeted each child at the door and with them, waved goodbye to their parents, and considered each one's potential in the coming school year … in my room.  Unfortunately, the starting line for each child varied widely because of their different life experiences leading up to that first day of kindergarten – serious differences that could mean some of them would never be able to keep pace or catch up.

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About Ready at Five

Mission

Ready At Five improves the practice and quality of early childhood education in Maryland.

Vision

We believe that every child in Maryland should have the foundational skills needed for success in school, career and life.

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