Elizabethtown Ind., Hardin Co. officials want to use bornlearning academies to improve kindergarten readiness of children whose parents take part...

News-Enterprise, Elizabethtown, Sept. 7, 2014

Early childhood workshops to begin this month
Bornlearning Academies include free dinner
By Anna Taylor

Two area schools are launching early childhood workshops for parents and children this month called bornlearning Academies.

North Park Elementary Schools and Panther Academy will host six free workshop sessions for area families with children ages birth to 5, giving families opportunities to understand easy learning tactics they can use with their children at home, traveling or in public places.

Bornlearning Academy was created in northern Kentucky with a goal of decreasing the number of children who start kindergarten unprepared. The workshops provide families with a free dinner, plus strategies for getting children ready for school.

“It’s designed to give parents an opportunity to enhance their learning experience at home and provide different tools and activities for the parents to share with their children at home,” said Pam Haire, family resource coordinator at Panther Academy.

C.J. Quick, counselor at Brighter Futures Counseling, will instruct the workshops held at Panther Academy. She said parents can start getting their children kindergarten ready from birth forward.

New kindergarten students are required to take the Brigance screening, which measures how prepared a student is for starting school. The exam measures academic/cognitive, self-help, language development, physical well-being, and social and emotional skills.

Panther Academy Principal Kelly Graham said half of kindergartners across the state begin school unprepared. With programs such as bornlearning Academy, Graham said research will show they have a higher success rate.

Each workshop is its own independent session, with a new theme each time. Session themes include building relationships, nutrition and health, how children learn, learning on the go and other developmental topics.

Parents will complete a survey to help measure how effective the program is at the beginning and end of every workshop session. Parents who complete all of the workshops will have the opportunity to participate in a bornlearning Academy graduation ceremony in the spring.

Carlena Sheeran, director of early childhood for Hardin County Schools, said the early years are when a person does the most learning and developing. Sheeran said parents can do simple tasks every day with their child that can make a lasting difference in their academic success including reading, even if it’s from a recipe or newspaper, letting them help at the grocery store or allowing them to measure or count ingredients during dinner.

“It’s about learning about the opportunities that are in your every day environment that you might just miss,” said North Park Principal Beth Brandenburg. “Parents are so busy when they come home with dinner or getting everyone cleaned and to bed that they aren’t thinking that it’s a great learning opportunity. It’s taking advantage of those everyday opportunities.”

Sheeran said the creators of the program wanted to design workshops in a way that would be similar to a normal evening at home, which is why a dinner is included. The dinner provided is a healthy meal that encourages a well-balanced diet. Both schools are working with various restaurants and businesses to help sponsor parts of the dinner and workshops.

The schools also are partnering with high schools to allow high school students the opportunity to learn about childcare. The high schools involved are North Hardin and Elizabethtown.

Workshops at both locations are available at no cost for any parent with young children. Parents are not required to have a child enrolled at either school to attend.

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