BY KATHRYN BASSETT firstname.lastname@example.org
AUBURN — The entire community is responsible for enhancing the development of children ages birth to 5, an early childhood specialist told an Auburn audience Tuesday.
Dana Jones, early childhood specialist for the Indiana Department of Education, came to DeKalb County to discuss the skills and experiences children from birth to age 5 need for early learning success. She presented morning and evening programs at the Auburn First United Methodist Church.
The free event was open to interested parents, teachers, community members, home- and center-based child care providers and early childhood professionals. It was hosted by DeKalb County Learning Link’s early childhood team, United Way of DeKalb County, and Early Childhood Alliance.
Jones said a high-quality early childhood education, whether provided by family or a formal program, increases a child’s ability to succeed in school.
The social and emotional development of children is especially important, Jones said. This includes children’s knowledge of their own feelings and those of others, the ability to develop positive relationships, interpersonal skills, engaging and cooperating within a group, and managing conflicts in a positive way.
Jones shared a story of a student who did not know his name when he entered kindergarten. When the teacher talked to the child’s mother about the matter, the mother admitted she never really had spoken to her son. Jones said the lack of communication in the home had led to the child being unaware of his identity.
Jones also spoke about approaches to learning that develop a child’s curiosity, enjoyment of learning, confidence, creativity, attention to task, reflection and interest and attitudes.
Jones said one of her most enjoyable projects that engaged children’s curiosity was allowing them to take apart old clocks she purchased at garage sales. The children would question how each part worked, would create names for unknown parts and even would try to put the clocks back together, she said.
Jones said a child is ready for kindergarten when: possible health barriers that block learning have been detected and addressed; the child demonstrates enthusiasm, curiosity and persistence toward learning; the child can communicate frustration, anger and joy; the child is able to get along with others; and the child has early literacy skills and a general knowledge about the world, things events, places and people.