Head Start, Little Promises celebrate their young children

Local Head Start centers and Little Promises Daycare celebrated the Week of the Young Child last week.

For Head Start, the week culminated in an afternoon at Sankey Park while Little Promises children ate a special lunch with their parents.

Week of the Young Child, sponsored by National Association of the Young Child, is aimed at increasing awareness about early childhood development.

To celebrate young children, “we put up artwork around the community,” Lori Bisby, a family advocate with Head Start, said.

Head Start was joined in that by Little Promises.

Little Promises had more interest in having the artwork than was available, Owner-Director Anita Hutchins said. When teachers asked for volunteers to do more art, the tables filled with children quickly.

Monday, Kidco Head Start’s Crawfordsville and Sunnyside centers sponsored story time at the Sweet Home Public Library in the morning and evening.

The main story, “If You Give a Moose a Muffin,” inspired activities following the story. The kids ate muffins and did moose crafts.

At the end of the week, the 80 children enrolled in Head Start locally visited Sankey Park where they played on the playground, blew bubbles and fed ducks.

Little Promises children did their artwork and ended the week with lunch in the Evangelical Church gym. Little Promises gave ribbons out to parents for their cars to celebrate the week. Parents took time off to have lunch with their children. They topped the lunch of with dirt and worms dessert (chocolate and Gummi worms).

“This is where learning begins,” Bisby said. She stressed the importance of developing an environment that supports learning. With that in mind, Head Start works with families on nutrition, health screening, vision testing and more “so they’re prepared for learning in grade school, so the whole child is ready to start grade school. At Head Start, we believe it’s important to foster them loving to learn.”

Proper preparation helps children the whole way through school and emphasized the theme, “Where our Future Begins.”

Bisby pointed to one statistic, that each dollar spent saves $10 in the long run, to show the importance of early education. Head Start children, she said, have a lower high school dropout rate as well.

“Kids are adjusted well for school,” Bisby said.

“What we are trying to do is really raise the community awareness this year,” Katie Hall, a Head Start family advocate, said. The Sunnyside and Crawfordsville centers want the community to know they’re in town and what they’re about.

“We wanted the children to know they are special,” Hutchins said of the week’s emphasis. “It is an effort on our part to say we’re here, and this is what we’re doing.”

Little Promises starts working with children at the age of six weeks.

“We provide a service here for parents that can’t be home with their children,” Hutchins said. Little Promises also begins teaching children at the age of three.

“The most formative years are when we have them,” Hutchins said. Part of the program’s focus is to “help them learn that learning is fun.”

Little Promises staff introduce children to as many different types of learning as they can during those years. They work with parents to build confidence in the children.

“It affects them tremendously,” Hutchins said. Little Promises can boast that it has had several valedictorians and salutatorians.

Little Promises also identifies children with learning disabilities early so families can begin working with support agencies prior to their children entering the education system.

“The teachers tell me they can tell the children who’ve had early childhood education,” Hutchins said. They come in with skills in place and ready to take off in grade schools.

Balloons for the week had the caption “My child is a Little Promise.”

That’s a promise from God, Hutchins said. It’s also a promise to parents and the community that Little Promises will teach them the best it can.

Little Promises opened in 1989. A number of its staff members have been on staff since it opened. It has 120 children in the age three through kindergarten school program and about 120 families in daycare.

Little Promises has 22 staff members, including four high school students. It is directed by Hutchins and Carlene Cole.

Head Start is for low-income children ages three and four. The program is free. Up to 10 percent of the children can be above income limits, but they must have disabilities or learning delays.

For information about Head Start, persons may contact Crawfordsville Center at 367-3361 or Sunnyside Center at 367-8070. Both centers will begin taking applications for next fall in the beginning of May.