Making a Difference: Encouraging a Child’s Educational Journey
Research shows that the first five years of a child’s life are crucially important. In that short span, nearly 90 percent of a child’s brain develops, forming the complex map of neural connections that guide them through life.
The importance of that period – and the weight of the responsibility – is not lost on parents and caregivers. They are a child’s first teacher, after all; and many acknowledge feeling anxious that they’re not living up to the task, said Kaitlynne Bolinger, a school readiness coordinator with Christian County Public Schools.
“It’s something I hear all the time: Caregivers worry they don’t have a teaching degree or say they don’t feel capable of knowing what to do when they’re at home alone with their child to build a solid learning foundation,” Bolinger said.
But they can take comfort in the fact that children are born ready to learn, Bolinger said. And KET resources, such as the Let’s Learn Kentucky website, can go a long way toward helping parents and caregivers navigate those first formative years in a child’s development.
KET does a great job of helping families feel capable and confident when working with their children and preparing them for school.Kaitlynne Bolinger
Let’s Learn Kentucky, she said, is an easy-to-navigate resource hub that provides a one-stop shop for answers about those early childhood years. The website shares what it means to be Kindergarten-ready and offers a variety of simple, everyday activities that parents and caregivers can incorporate into their child’s daily routines to encourage learning.
“When I first laid eyes on the Let’s Learn Kentucky website, I felt like the angels were singing because it was exactly the kind of resource I’d always hoped for,” Bolinger said. “KET does a great job of helping families feel capable and confident when working with their children and preparing them for school.”
Fostering a healthy home-learning environment, Bolinger said, is all the more important as more and more families face a local shortage of quality childcare centers. Christian County, she said, is what’s known as a “child care desert,” meaning most families don’t have access to outside care and often must rely on a network of family members, such as siblings and grandparents, to encourage learning in the home.
“What I love about KET’s Let’s Learn Kentucky resources is that they have this scenario in mind – and they make it easy for all stakeholders to feel like they play an important and impactful role in a child’s early educational journey,” Bolinger said.
She points to the website’s list of six simple things that caregivers can do together with their child to encourage learning: reading, talking, counting, moving, connecting and playing. Bolinger added that many caregivers already do these things without even realizing it.
“There’s an ‘a-ha’ moment when caregivers realize how influential something as simple as playing together can be,” Bolinger said. “But many things are happening in playtime. Children are developing cognitive skills through problem solving. They’re learning about cause and effect. And they’re practicing their fine motor skills. It’s all there. And that’s why I love the Let’s Learn Kentucky website so much: It shows that you don’t have to do big things to have a big impact on your child’s early educational journey.”
For more information, visit LetsLearnKY.org.