Early Childhood Development: The Good, the Bad, and the Important
The first three years are an exciting and significant time in a toddler’s life. From birth to age three, children’s brains are developing faster than at any other time. Whether with their family or in quality early childcare and education settings, stimulating and supportive environments provide the best chance for children to be developmentally ready for kindergarten and beyond.
Even in these unsettling times, we still wholeheartedly believe that every child can and should reach his or her full potential. Those important early years are the foundation.
Early Childhood Programs like Sixpence Provide an Abundant Foundation
For our littlest members of our community to thrive, we need to set them up for success while they’re still young. The Sixpence Early Learning Fund recognizes the importance of creating a safe, supportive, and engaging first three years of a child’s life.
Sixpence is comprised of state and local-level public-private partnerships whose common mission is to give infants and toddlers a smooth start as they transition into early childhood. Together these collaborations leverage funds, resources, and professional understanding to provide quality early childhood programs.
The primary demographic includes children ranging from prenatal to age three, especially those who may enter kindergarten without all the resources and tools needed to reach his or her full potential. At Nebraska Children, Sixpence embodies our mission to create positive change through community engagement.
Sixpence’s history extends back to 2006, when major state agencies and private philanthropic organizations united and created an endowment. These funds from this endowment deliver long-term, high-quality early learning opportunities for our state’s youngest, most vulnerable children.
By way of a selective grant process, a governor-assigned Board of Trustees who serve on behalf of the public/private sector then choose the recipients. The grant process and early childhood programs’ quality is overseen here at Nebraska Children.
Now that we’ve set the stage for how Sixpence works, let’s delve into Sixpence Home-Based Services. This initiative pairs families with early childhood home visitors who coach and encourage stimulating parent-child developmentally appropriate activities.
These early childhood education home visitors have been trained to focus on parent-child interactions to gauge, evaluate, and overcome young children’s developmental roadblocks. Above all, these experts work with parents so that they, too, can thrive as impactful and resilient caregivers and their child’s most essential teacher.
We recently spoke with Cassie and Taylor Boyle of Plattsmouth, Nebraska. Cassie and Taylor are the parents of four children. Cassie explained some of the key benefits, resources, and takeaways she and her family have experienced from participating in this program.
Cassie and Taylor Boyle
- What community is your Sixpence Home-Based program?
- How long have you been in the program? How old is your child?
Fawn [our Sixpence Home-Based home visitor] began with my second child, Eli when he was 15 months. Eli is now almost 6. [Fawn] has been with Eva (3) since birth and Calvin (17 months) since birth.
- How has the Sixpence Home-Based program supported you?
The Sixpence Home-Based program has supported me as a parent in many ways. Fawn has become my supporter, my confidant, and my friend. She began as a home teacher and has evolved into so much more. She is an active listener and has helped me discover solutions to problems and has helped me discover my strengths.
- What do you like about home visitation? What are the benefits you have seen for your family and your child’s development?
My kids and I always look forward to our home visits. I have learned so much about how kids learn through play. We always start with playtime. Fawn brings a new activity each week. She also brings a parenting lesson, which she teaches through discussion and great conversation. Each week we look at our routines and family issues and choose goals to work on. I have seen improvement in my parenting skills, our family’s daily routines, and my children’s development.
- What are your key takeaways from your time in Sixpence Home-Based Services?
There are some key takeaways from our involvement in the Sixpence Home-Based program. First and foremost, I have learned that parents are a child’s first teacher and there are learning opportunities in every moment of every day.
I have also learned that children are not in control of their emotions and it is my job as a parent to help my kids identify their emotions and choose appropriate behaviors based on those emotions. These key factors have led to better-behaved kids and a more smoothly run, routine-based household.