ACAP centers celebrate Week of Young Child

7 years ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Aroostook County Action Program’s early care and education centers in central and southern Aroostook communities recently participated in Week of the Young Child by hosting celebrations and learning experiences geared towards the youngest people they serve.

“Week of the Young Child is an annual celebration of early learning, young children, their teachers, and families sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The goal is to bring awareness to the importance of early learning opportunities for children birth to age 5,” said Family Engagement Specialist Amy Murchison of ACAP’s Early Care and Education department.

According to their website, NAEYC is the world’s largest early childhood education association, with nearly 80,000 members and a network of over 300 local, state, and regional affiliates. The organization first established Week of the Young Child in 1971, recognizing that the early childhood years (birth through age 8) lay the foundation for children’s success in school and later life.

Local centers in each community decide which events to coordinate for their students during the week. ACAP centers in Dyer Brook, Houlton, Presque Isle and Caribou arranged for special events during the week, each activity designed to enhance learning experiences for young, curious minds. Many special guests to the centers read books or led special group activities.

ACAP Executive Director Jason Parent spent his week visiting classrooms in centers all over The County, also taking time to read to children.

At Gouldville School in Presque Isle, each day had a theme, featuring healthy treats like flavored waters, and fun activities, like an indoor obstacle course. Special guest readers at Gouldville included Rob Thibeault, retired Aroostook County sheriff, and Melissa St. Pierre, the youth services librarian at the Mark and Emily Turner Memorial Library.

The kids also had an opportunity to watch a clogging demonstration by parent Julea Gorneault, and Phyllis Howe, bus monitor, performed on her Pianica for the students. Finally, EMT and North Lakes Region Fire Department firefighter Jesse Belanger visited to teach the students about stranger danger.

In Caribou, students explored the world without having to leave their classrooms. Each classroom was decorated with various country’s themes – like China, Mexico and Ireland. The staff prepared special cuisines to introduce the students to unique flavors associated with their countries and their activities centered around learning about the other cultures. As a bonus, Deputy Clark from the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Department made an appearance as a guest reader.

In Houlton, special guest readers during the week included Houlton Elementary Principal Candy Crane, and local SNAP Educator Heather McGuire read a book about monsters not liking broccoli. The preschool students had an opportunity to try raw asparagus, many commenting, “it’s not so bad.” Teacher Melanie Greaves’ husband, Bill Greaves, lieutenant in the Maine Forest Service, read one of the children’s favorite books and explained his job and the uniform he wears.

Teacher Linda Stevens’ daughter Doreen Conlogue is the county executive director for Farm Service Agency. Her visit included an explanation of what she does at work and a reading of “Mr. Brown Can Moo.” She then presented each child with their own copy.

In addition to staff introducing their families in Houlton, students’ families were also invited to become involved. One dad, Eric Schools, visited the school and helped the children make a structure with “goop.” Then mom, Kira Schools, took the kids outside on Thursday for nature painting and creating wall art featuring pine cones, rocks and pussy willows. Another student’s twin sisters visited and her older brother read “The Giving Tree” to the class.

In Dyer Brook, the ACAP/RSU 50 Partnership program did nature paintings with parents during the week.

ACAP Early Care and Education Centers in Presque Isle and Caribou are the only licensed child care facilities north of Bangor to hold national accreditation through NAEYC. These centers must demonstrate a high quality of service delivery to young children and families. Staff, families and the community all play a vital part in supporting the program to meet the high standards.