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Moore column: Celebrating early childhood education

Family Forum, Inc. is one of those early childhood programs working to fill the needs of our community's children and families.

Legs of the child, the kid go on massage mats. Exercises for legs on orthopedic massage carpet.
Legs of the child, the kid go on massage mats. Exercises for legs on orthopedic massage carpet. Orthopedic massage puzzle floor mats for development of children.
Anastasiia - stock.adobe.com

The classroom is separated into zones. Each tiny member participates in their own way in the little wooden kitchen, or on the tiny red sofa leafing through picture books, or over at the shin-high tables smearing finger paint over crinkled construction paper.

The energy is felt more than seen. Like a soft thrumming in one's heart. It may be adult anxiousness, or it may be the realization of seeing these little lives growing and searching for their own place in this classroom. Group time is assembled as little jeans, skirts and leggings find their way to colorful carpet shapes to land on. The teacher instructs each child to take a deep breath and wish the ones who are gone well.

The classrooms at Family Forum, Inc.'s Head Start center are more than a safe place to put your child for the day. It is a space for opportunity and growth. Here, the children are not only set up for kindergarten, they are set up for life. Whether it is the simple method of breathing for another or finding their quiet place when they need a moment to de-stress, these are the skills we hope grow with them as they go to kindergarten, high school and the work force.

"Early childhood education builds a strong foundation for children’s success throughout their life," writes Mary Hudson, the agency's professional development lead/coach. "We are not just preparing children for the next year; we are preparing them for the next 50 years of their life."

April 4-8 was The Week of the Young Child, a week to "focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs," according to the National Association for the Education of Young Children's (NAEYC) website.

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Family Forum, Inc. is one of those early childhood programs working to fill the needs of our community's children and families. We currently serve 146 children in our Early Head Start program (ages 0-3), and 330 children in our Head Start program (ages 3-5). Our goal is to not only support children in their learning journey, but their families, as well.

Our children may not remember the art they created at our centers, nor what books were their favorite to flip through, but they will remember the sense of a safe environment that let their brains explore and grow.

Heather Kerola, our agencies family and community engagement lead, said, "What we focus on we get more of. When we wisely and mindfully invest in early childhood education, we have the opportunity to change the future of the world by teaching those who will create that future the skills and practices of kindness, respect, understanding and peace. We have the chance to literally rewire the neurological pathways of these little ones and transform the future in a way that will change the course of all of our other systems."

Now that is something to celebrate and strive for.

Family Forum is currently accepting applications for the fall 2022 program year for both Early Head Start (ages 0-3) and Head Start (3-5) applicants. Please visit familyforum.org to apply online or call 715-392-9896. 

Hana Moore is an office assistant at Family Forum.

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