Child care workers, teachers meet to improve early childhood education

By By Justin Phillips / American Press

Vanessa Davis, the instructional coach for the Early Childhood Care and Education Network, is naturally hopeful. She said

it’s the only way to be successful in her field — hoping for and expecting success.

And she doesn’t believe all of the state’s problems in early childhood education can be solved at one fell swoop. The problem

has too many layers. Instead, Davis said the idea is to make progress, day after day, year after year, until each child in

the state is an adequately prepared student when the time comes for them to start school.

At the Assessment Building, at 1618 Mill St., 40 child care workers and teachers spent their Saturday morning in a classroom,

learning about new ways to improve early childhood education.

“We’re preparing child care workers,

pre-K teachers, non-public pre-K and Head Start teachers how to

adequately prepare children

for kindergarten and success later on,” Davis said. “Everyone

that’s here is a volunteer; they gave up their Saturday to come

be a part of this.”

The training is part of the Early

Childhood Care and Education Network pilot grant given to the Calcasieu

Parish School Board

Early Childhood Department by the state Department of Education.

As a program, the pilot is still relatively young and won’t

be fully implemented until 2015-16.

“The network is doing what’s best for the children. That’s the main thing,” Davis said. “Our hope is that all of the children

we reach will enter kindergarten with the readiness and skills they’ll need to succeed.”

During training, the participants

learned about a variety of tools, including a program that provides

measurements of teacher

and child interactions in the classroom — an online assessment of

students’ abilities called Teaching Strategies Gold, which

also plans instruction based on the data.

Participants also learned about the

Louisiana Birth to Five Early Learning and Development Standards, which

provide developmental

milestones for each age. The standards are designed to be a daily

reference and resource for those dealing with the youngest

future students.

Rosalyn King was one of the 40 participants taking advantage of the learning experience. As the owner of Moriah’s Christian

Preschool at 332 South Goos St., King also brought several of her employees to the training session.

“I just want to learn more about what type of information schools are offering to help children,” King said. “Early education

is just extremely important for kids. At young ages, they’re sponges — they take in everything.”

Many of the children passing through King’s doors are far behind in their preparation for school. She said that with some

of them, she has to start the education from the beginning.

“We’re not baby sitters, so when we get

these kids, we want to teach them as much as we can in the best ways we

can,” King

said. “We want the kids we get to leave there either on the same

level as other kids their age, or better. We’re looking for

better.”