The Week of the Young Child celebrates the importance of early learning, young children and their teachers, families, and communities.
By Sydney Kerelo
Through the doors of KenCrest’s Adams Early Learning Center (ELC), fluorescent walls and smiling faces greet each guest. Bright pops of color and artfully decorated doors line the hallways leading into the main multi-purpose room packed with scooters, tricycles, playmats, and costumes clothes ready for playtime—the air fills with booming shrieks of glee and unbidden happiness.
But this day is a little different as a special guest joins in playtime. State Representative Isabella Fitzgerald visits the ELC to celebrate the Week of the Young Child (WOYC) with KenCrest students.
WOYC is a weeklong event hosted by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) that recognizes and focuses on early learning, children and their teachers, families, and communities. The NAEYC is “the world’s largest early childhood education association with nearly 60,000 members and a network of 52 affiliates,” says NAEYC.org.
Participants follow daily, fun-filled themes and activities like Music Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Work Together Wednesday, Artsy Thursday, and Family Friday throughout the week.
During her visit, State Rep. Fitzgerald toured the Center, played with the students, and participated in a music-filled classroom reading. She went to each room to sing and dance along to the “Happy and Healthy” book and song by musician and songwriter Divinity Roxx. This joyful, catchy, hip-hop song celebrates life with illustrations by NaShantá Fletcher of diverse community members in authentic urban environments from around the country.
Not only did our KenCrest students dance around the classrooms with State Rep. Fitzgerald, but they blew bubbles, played dress-up, and learned to work together in the police station playhouse.
The KenCrest Adams ELC initially opened in December of 2019 but had to close its doors due to COVID-19. In June 2020, the Center reopened with hybrid classrooms. Now leading into the spring months, the Center is entirely in-person.
Not only is KenCrest’s Adams ELC focused on helping students thrive, but they are family-oriented. The Center supports families by allowing them to experiment with offerings like adult educational programs—including English as a second language (ESL)—and smart connections that help families become more trauma-informed. Plus, the Center helps parents teach their children to develop healthy coping and communication styles when experiencing trauma.
According to Melanie Brennan, Executive Director of Early Learning Programs, due to the pandemic, many students who are typically potty-trained by the time they enter preschool are not. Our mission is to help parents make sense of significant behaviors like potty training and teach what we can do about regulating ourselves, our children, and our families. We do this by teaching how to perform and maintain rituals such as washing your hands after the bathroom, brushing your teeth in the morning, and so on.
“We are trying to be holistic, not just a place kids come,” says Brennan.
Pa. State Representative Isabella Fitzgerald clapping, singing, and dancing along to “Happy and Healthy” during a classroom read aloud./Photo by Aubrey Hoffert
As we continue celebrating Week of the Young Child, we look forward to making an impact, offering support, and focusing on the incredible work our teachers, families, and young children do throughout our early learning centers.
To learn more about our Centers, visit KenCrest.org/clients-families/early-learning-centers/