By Emily McDonough — Thus far in my blog posts I have talked about everything from the build up toward coming to Washington DC for the summer, as well as taking the plunge into the new situation that I am in, but I have not exactly explained what I am doing while here yet.
Currently I am interning with Jumpstart for Young Children, a national early-education nonprofit organization which advocates for quality preschool education for all students in order to ensure that they enter formal schooling prepared to succeed.
My time thus far working at Jumpstart has been a priceless learning experience in more than just once sense. Not only have I begun to acquire valuable skills which will better equip me for a life both within a school setting and in a more formal corporate setting, but working for a cause like Jumpstart has also opened my eyes to the importance of early-education instruction before students even begin kindergarten.
Jumpstart’s mission is to “work for the day that every child enters school prepared to succeed”. Considering this, as well as the other goals and involvement that I came to learn about Jumpstart as I gained more experience there, I began to question my own thoughts and ideas about the importance early education. How much have I really considered and valued my students’ pre-K schooling experiences in my own teaching?
As pre-service educators, it often seems that we overlook students’ preschool instruction and how much it truly makes a difference in the students that we receive in our own classrooms. Jumpstart helps children from low-income neighborhoods develop the language and literacy skills they need in order to start school successfully and set them up on a path to close the achievement gap before it is too late. Jumpstart carries out this mission by training dedicated college students and community volunteers, collectively known as Corps members, to implement their standardized curriculum, building key language and literacy skills for preschool children in areas such asBoston,San Diego,Chicago, andWashingtonDC.
Studies show that children who complete quality early education programs do better in school and are less likely to dropout, be arrested, repeat grades, or require special education. It seems, to me at least, that we are K-12 teachers are working toward very similar goals that early-education advocates are working toward as well.
So why are we not learning about, or at the very least considering, early-education more in our own pre-service training?
My time with Jumpstart so far has opened my eyes to a key educational variable which, I am sad to say, I had truly never given much thought to in relation to my own teaching. The importance of early-educational experience in students prior to entering the K-12 schooling system is something that is so often overlooked. I am looking forward to learning more about Jumpstart’s impact on young children throughout the rest of my time here in DC, and sharing that information with other pre-service teachers once I return to Marquette in the fall.