Event puts the fo­cus on young learn­ers

Charles County event con­nects fam­i­lies with agen­cies, ven­dors

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @JamieACIndyNews

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.”

STAFF PHO­TOS BY JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU

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.

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