Children Benefit When Educators Learn from Each Other
By Senate Alexander ’06, Executive Director of Catherine Hershey Schools for Early Learning
Education is a lifelong journey—something that leaders in the early learning field especially understand and appreciate. Many of these individuals recently came together for the 2023 Early Childhood Education Leaders Summit hosted by Catherine Hershey Schools for Early Learning (CHS). The first-ever Summit proved to be a high-quality learning opportunity.
Educators, national experts, social workers, health care providers, and community partners spent two days discussing how to best serve the students and families in their care. Panel discussions and breakout sessions focused on critical topics such as instruction and leadership, caring for the whole child, and a two-generation approach to lift up the entire family.
One session of note centered around two-generational impact and explored the value of a strengths-based approach to working with families experiencing poverty, valuable information for anyone working in early childhood education. I am particularly looking forward to seeing how CHS teachers and staff will utilize the information as they will be the individuals directly providing weekday care and education for children from six weeks to age 5—with all costs covered for qualifying families.
The value and popularity of early learning supports is clear. A 2023 poll commissioned by the Early Learning PA Coalition and conducted by Susquehanna Polling and Research showed that 98% of Pennsylvania voters believe early childhood education is important. The overall support of voters has grown since June 2022. According to the poll, support for educating children from birth to age five is up by eight percentage points versus last year.
Additionally, long-standing research backs up the importance of quality early care and positive, society-contributing outcomes. The two most cited studies tying economic gaps and interventions to early education are the Perry Preschool Program and the Abecedarian Project. In both cases, the paths of children were tracked by researchers for decades. Some children in the programs received enhanced early learning supports, while others in control groups did not. Those who received higher quality care did much better in life, as evidenced by greater scholastic achievement, stronger relationships, and other measures.
CHS is dedicated to creating high-quality learning communities that nurture, educate, and empower children and families in social and financial need to lead fulfilling and productive lives. With 17 percent of young children in Pennsylvania living below the federal poverty level, there is a tremendous need for quality early childhood education.
By bringing together the leaders in child and family advocacy, we inspired each other and continued building relationships that help young learners throughout Pennsylvania thrive.