Event puts the focus on young learners
Charles County event connects families with agencies, vendors
The importance of early childhood learning was highlighted with information, games, activities and more Saturday during the 2016 Charles County Early Childhood Day event at the Capital Clubhouse.
The event was founded by the Charles County Early Childhood Advisor y Council.
This was the sixth year the event has been held, said D. Mia Gray of the Charles County Early Childhood Advisor y Council.
“We’re targeting birth to five [years old] and the goal is to have all children entering schools in Charles County ready to learn,” Gray said. “Early childhood education is very important, as learning begins before birth. Prenatally, learning begins, and it’s really important to stimulate the brain, to stimulate cognitive and physical development in children.”
The event featured vendors and organizations providing information relating to supporting young children and their families, including the Charles County Family Daycare Association, the Charles County Commission for women, Charles County Department of Health, and various daycare and fitness centers.
“We asked local community vendors and agencies to come and support early childhood and show parents how easy it is to do small activities that support early learning, whether it’s at the grocery store, in the car, or at home,” Gray said. “The vendors not only show who they are and what they do, they also help parents to understand reading to children, playing ball, how all these things affect early childhood. Some of the agencies provide direct services, whether it be vaccinations or developmental screenings, they’re here as well.”
Tina Sheff, job development coordinator for La Plata-based nonprofit Spring Dell Center, which works to connect individuals with disabilities to jobs and community, said the event was a great way to get parents thinking early about the services their children may need when they’re older.
“We also tell kids, you may have someone in your class who has a disability, or is in a wheelchair, but they’re just like you,” Sheff said.
Tora Wright, coordinator of child care career and professional development funds for the College of Southern Maryland La Plata, said the college attended the event to provide information about the college’s Early Childhood Education program and also to provide information about a grant offered by the college for early childhood professionals working in a licensed healthcare facility to attend CSM.
“Early childhood education is definitely important for kindergarten readiness,” Wright said. “It’s a precursor for academic success. Children need pre-literacy skills in order to be successful as a reader.”
In addition to vendors and information, the event featured face painting, story time, visits by costume mascots, coloring, games and free backpacks filled with school supplies.
Oliver Wagner of Waldorf said he attended with his family to find out more about what resources are available in Charles County.
“It’s been very informative,” Wagner said.
Marlon Curtis of Waldorf, father of three, said he has attended the event in years past.
“There’s always a lot of good information out here, things you might not think of,” Curtis said. “They’ve got a lot of up-to-date information about activities going on throughout the year. Now I can sit down with my wife and see where we want to put our kids, this’ll make it a lot easier, and the backpacks are great, they knock out a lot of the shopping element.”
Gray said a lot of times, parents aren’t aware of the resources that are available.
“They wait until their children get to school, and they aren’t sure how to start those fine motor skills so that they can write, cognitive for problem-solving, so we work early in stimulating all of those areas that they need necessary to be effective learners in schools, and it starts with little things, so if you go around the area you’ll see tactile development, sensory development, all of these things are necessary to get a child ready for school.”
Eight month old Karsyn Price is held by “Olaf,” the snowman from the movie “Frozen”, during the Charles County Early Childhood Day at the Capital Clubhouse in Waldorf Saturday.
Ellen and Oliver Wagner, with 2-year-old daughter Veronica, speak with Meghan Bynum, community outreach director for the Catherine Foundation Pregnancy Care Center in Waldorf during the Charles County Early Childhood Day at the Capital Clubhouse in Waldorf Saturday.
Kree and Khloe Middleton give hugs to a Minion from the “Dispicable Me” and “Minions” movies during Charles County Early Childhood Day at the Capital Clubhouse in Waldorf Saturday.