Close your eyes for a moment and imagine occupying 200 kids under five with no tv and no timeouts for 12 hours a day. Before you start panicking at this image, take a look at this place:
This is Harry Bromberg’s preschool. (I say Harry Bromberg because he is only now starting to grow out of a tendency to refer to himself in the third person. It’s pretty entertaining.) Educare Central Maine is a palace – the kind of child care facility you can only dream about, an $11.5 million kiddie castle. It’s only been open since August 2010 and there is a huge waiting list for both low-income and middle income families. Harry had been on the waiting list for 10 months before he got in, and Baby Cecilia is now 15 months on the waiting list. (Yes, the math is right, I put her on the waiting list in the womb.) We call Cecilia the Educare Baby, because some of the national Educare funders are using her photo in their PR materials. The kids only made it on the middle-income waiting list because I work for the social service agency who developed the center locally.
|See? You’d give money to a face like this!|
I don’t know about the rest of you, but around here, I’m not sure which experience is more stressful, trying to buy a car or finding a safe, affordable place to care for your kids. All the guesswork is taken away with Educare. It’s part of a national network of state of the art child care facilities and the only one in the northeast. They use a curriculum that is basically Head Start put on steroids, with the added bonus that all the teachers have either a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in early childhood education, with low student-teacher ratios to boot. The facility also serves as a learning lab for other child care providers and early childhood education degree students to take classes, do observations, etc. We have parent-teacher conferences every three months and design goals for Harry, which includes teaching us how to help him with those goals. They have independent evaluators come and work with the kids to assess developmental skills and milestones. However, it’s not done like he’s a lab rat. It’s all about him and what we all do together to help him. It’s actually really cool.
Research tells us that 85 percent of all brain development happens before age 5, with most of it actually happening by age 3. It’s amazing for us, having Harry in this program. We already have a glimpse of what his true potential will be and he’s only 3 ½. He’s grown so much emotionally and in intelligence since he started in January. If you’re not a believer yet, watch this video put together by the Ounce of Prevention Fund. I’m not much of a crier, but this makes me choke up every time I watch it.