To best help a child develop socially, emotionally, and cognitively, educators and parents alike know it’s often a community effort, which is why two Chicago-area educators promoted the value of community partnerships today while speaking at the country’s largest conference of early childhood educators.
Jessie Black of South Loop KinderCare and Elizabeth Miner of Northwestern University Children’s Center stressed the importance of building connections in the community as a critical way to benefit children, their families, and center staff.
“The positive impact community partnerships can have on children is so great,” said Elizabeth, at the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) annual conference. “They gain access to opportunities they need to grow up healthy, caring, and responsible.”
Community partnerships, whether with civic, government or non-profit organizations, are a key aspect in gaining accreditation through NAEYC, and a focus of the Early Foundations curriculum.
“By being involved beyond our four walls, parents benefit from one more outlet to talk with their children about social responsibility and citizenship,” Jessie said. “Schools benefit by being active in their community and professionally developing their staff in new ways.”
The session emphasized the importance of creating a community culture that teaches children to work together towards common goals and uses their input to decide how to be more involved young citizens. The educators also offered ideas for different community projects, ranging from gardening to connecting with relief organizations to provide for those in need.
Tips from the session:
- Ask others for ideas; seek established programs to serve as a mentor.
- Research organizations you are considering partnering with before contacting them.
- Consider your center’s population to find activities that will be most meaningful to them.