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Child care workers, teachers meet to improve early childhood education

Last Modified: Saturday, August 24, 2013 8:48 PM

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.”

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