Nurturing Futures and Building Bonds

MKM Early Learning Center’s Early Start Birth-3 Program

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The Early Start program at Mary Kay McNeill Early Center is fostering a strong partnership between home and school, providing a lifeline for families from prenatal through the transition to preschool.

The program’s core mission is to facilitate a seamless connection between families and educational resources, ensuring that children receive the support and guidance they need from the very beginning. The Early Start program is a shining example of how proactive community initiatives can pave the way for brighter futures.

The Early Start program extends a helping hand to families from the very start, beginning prenatally and continuing through the crucial preschool transition. The program’s approach revolves around four key components: developmental and social-emotional screenings, personalized home visits, opportunities for social connection, and access to vital community resources.

One of the program’s standout features is the individualized home visiting plan. This personalized approach is designed to bring activities into the child’s home that align with their developmental and social-emotional requirements. These visits provide an invaluable opportunity for families to actively participate in their child’s early development.

The Early Start program recognizes that the journey to early childhood development is not a solo endeavor. Several times a month, they organize events and gatherings that offer not only enriching experiences for children, but also opportunities for parents to socialize and share their experiences. Whether it’s storytimes in the classroom, park events, or evening music events, these activities strengthen the bonds within the community. 

The final pillar of the Early Start program is their commitment to connecting families with external resources tailored to their specific needs. This component ensures that families have access to the necessary support networks and services that will help them thrive.

The Early Start program’s dedication to high-quality services is underscored by its affiliation with Parents as Teachers (PAT). This nationally recognized curriculum equips Early Start teachers with the knowledge and skills to deliver top-tier support to children and families. To maintain their high standards, Parents as Teachers affiliates are required to engage in a rigorous Quality Endorsement and Improvement Process every five years. The program recently earned the Blue Ribbon award in October, a major accomplishment!

What’s truly remarkable about the Early Start program is its emphasis on partnership and community engagement; it’s truly a collaboration between families and the school.

In a demonstration of the power of partnerships, the Early Start program works closely with various community programs to extend its reach and advance its mission. One such partnership is with the Antioch Traveling Closet (ATC), a community-driven initiative dedicated to ensuring that no one in the community is without basic necessities.

The ATC collects donated items from the community, including clothing, shoes, winter jackets, books, and more, and distributes them free of charge at giveaway drives. The Early Start program, recognizing the shared commitment to community well-being, sets up a table at ATC’s events. Here, they provide families with valuable parenting resources and informational pamphlets on child development, ensuring that children from prenatal to preschool age receive the support they need, and give away books to families, hoping to encourage a love of reading from the earliest of ages.

The MKM Early Start program, with its commitment to fostering early childhood development and building strong bonds within the community, stands as a shining example of the positive change that can be achieved when a community comes together to support its members. Through its remarkable work, it is sowing the seeds for a brighter future for the D34 community.

If you are interested in learning more about the Early Start program or signing up for a screening, please contact Marnie Pedersen (mpedersen@antioch34.com) or Lisa Hanes (lhanes@antioch34.com) or call (847) 838-8032.