|Posted by ceciliacapers on October 16, 2013 at 2:40 AM|
I am a huge proponent of early childhood development programs. Immediately after college, I became an elementary school teacher. My students were primarily African American. Almost twenty years ago I stopped teaching to attend law school but I’m still sensitive to the needs of students, especially the needs of African American children facing academic challenges.
It is unfair to generalize every African American child as being disadvantaged or in jeopardy of falling behind their white peers. However, the developmental disparity between specific African American students and their white counterparts cannot be ignored. Unfortunately, a significant percentage of African American children entering school are not equipped with fundamental skills necessary for learning at the early stages. These children lack certain cognitive skills to give them a competitive edge.
As a child, I was fortunate to have parents who were very involved in my education. Before I walked into kindergarten at a Montessori school, my grandmother would read with me. I can remember my parents and grandparents surrounding me with educational toys and books. Whenever there was a book fair at my school, my mother would go over the list with me. Some of my fondest memories as a child was going to Barnes & Noble with my father. They encouraged me to write and perform skits with my toys to develop my vocabulary. I am thankful my parents took time out of their schedules to prepare me for the future.
That is why I am deeply concerned when a child does not receive the proper mental stimulation to prepare them to enjoy learning. Society stigmatizes children, especially in minority and undeserved communities, when their reading and math scores fall below the achievement level of non-minorities and children from more affluent school districts. To increase the likelihood of academic success in preschool and beyond, parents must take time to educate themselves to programs and techniques to get their child on the proper academic path.
Recently, I saw Reeshemah Brightley, an alumna of William Smith College, with her mother, Daseta Gray, on a local ABC Network news program discussing Sabree Education Services, an organization they created to provide early childhood development services in the African American community. Sabree Education Services (http://www.sabreeeducationservices.com/) a Harlem-based organization, is on the front lines of The First 2,000 Days Campaign. The first 2,000 days of a child’s life takes place from birth to kindergarten. The Campaign originated in Canada to inform parents and caregivers that a child’s brain development during the first 2,000 days of life determines how their brain will be wired for learning, social, and emotional development. Ms. Brightley and Ms. Gray are doing their part to educate parents and other adults in Harlem and other African American communities in New York City about the importance of preparing children for a lifetime of learning. The segment featuring Ms. Brightley and Ms. Gray on “Here and Now” can be viewed at http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/video?id=9274955&pid=null.
I am proud to see an alumna of my alma mater using her education and abilities to give back to her community. This mother and daughter team deserve a round of applause for addressing a critical problem in communities across New York City. More important, I hope they will get attention from community leaders and philanthropists who can provide funding and other forms of support. I am looking forward to hearing more great news about their work.