Submitted by Katie J. Mullan, Director of Born Learning Academies
United Way of Whiteside County has openings for its incentive-laden signature parent education program, a virtual Born Learning Academy, to be held at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from October 13 through 22, 2020.
Born Learning is a series of six classes for parents (or other caregivers) of children ages birth to 5, and provides practical, user-friendly ideas that help parents and caregivers become their child’s best first teacher. Normally, Academy sessions are held in person. They usually include free childcare (during sessions), giveaways — such as first aid kits, books, child-friendly tablets, and gift cards — and free supper. Due to the pandemic, Erie sessions will be held via Zoom. All giveaways will still be included. Born Learning classes focus on showing how “everyday experiences” are valuable learning opportunities that help prepare children for kindergarten, concentrating on relationship-building, language skills, nutrition and health, and how children learn.
United Way of Whiteside County’s Erie sessions are from 6:30 to 7:15 p.m. Oct. 13, 14, 15, 20, 21 and 22. Class times are structured to ensure families are home in time for evening routines. Born Learning launched locally in 2018 in Fulton.
“We are ecstatic to kick off yet another important initiative for children in Erie” said Diana Verhulst, CEO of United Way of Whiteside County. “This initiative will strengthen our relationship with local elementary school parents and children who are already benefitting from existing United Way educational offerings such as our long-standing book giveaway program, L.I.F.E., and our free summer lunch program, “Let’s Feed Our Children,” Verhulst said.
Former preschool teacher and Born Learning facilitator Jennifer Wendt will lead the classes. United Way directors will facilitate the classes, provide the curriculum and incentives, and give classroom support.
Other nonprofits in the region are collaborating, including the Regional Office of Education.
If you would like to register, volunteer, donate, or need more information about Born Learning, call United Way of Whiteside County at (815) 625-7973, sign up online at www.uwwhiteside.org, or stop by Erie Elementary School, 605 Sixth Ave., Erie, for a registration form. Signup deadline is Oct. 9, 2020. Class size is limited to 20 families, so sign up now.
More about Born Learning
United Way of Whiteside County’s Born Learning program began in 2018, and is funded in large part by Fulton resident Rosemary Huisingh, who previously partnered with television station WQPT in the Quad Cities to bring Scratch Jr. Coding classes to Riverbend Elementary School. In 2018, Ms. Huisingh entered a partnership with United Way of Whiteside County to help bring the signature Born Learning Academies to all of Whiteside County. Twenty families may enroll in each academy. Space is limited to ensure ease of participation.
United Way strives to meet parents where they are. That is the philosophy of the United Way Born Learning initiative, which has helped more than 15 million parents understand how to use everyday moments as learning moments. Founded in 2005 on an evidence-based curriculum established by early childhood faculty at Northern Kentucky University, the workshops are led by trained professionals — usually teachers, principals or other education staff — and are geared to adults, focusing on building relationships, children’s language skills, nutrition and health, and how children learn.
More than 600 United Ways and partner organizations have used Born Learning’s materials to help parents, families, and caregivers promote school readiness and literacy, and enlist business leaders and decision-makers in the cause.
Data shows that children whose families attend Born Learning academies are more likely to graduate from high school and go on for additional education. The Born Learning Academy can do more than strengthen your community’s school readiness efforts. It can also help your school partners engage families before children start kindergarten.