The Conference on Early Learning was held last month at the University of Washington, but the words of speaker Graciela Italiano-Thomas still resonate: “Children must learn to read, because they must read to learn.” Italiano-Thomas is president of Thrive by Five, our state’s groundbreaking nonprofit that is working to ensure that all kids in Washington have access to top-notch early learning (“Thrive by Five targets early learning”).
So simple, so eloquent . . . so true. Every child has the right to participate on an even, life-enhancing educational playing field. Italiano-Thomas, along with organizations such as the Foundation for Early Learning, The UW’s Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences (I-LABS) and the UW’s Center on Infant Mental Health and Development (CIMHD), is determined to make that happen.
As my ParentMap colleagues and I attended the conference, I was struck by the thoughtful dedication of the many educators gathered together for one purpose — to further the cause of early learning. There is tremendous momentum gathering in our state; we have a chance like never before to make great strides in early learning. ParentMap is honored to be part of this momentum — not just by bringing you the stories of these great organizations, their dedicated leaders, and their progress, but by getting directly involved in the process. ParentMap publisher Alayne Sulkin sits on the I-LABS and CIMHD boards, and is a former Foundation for Early Learning board member. In my years as ParentMap’s education reporter, I’ve seen exciting strides in early learning, as lawmakers shift priorities and research focuses goals.
The UW’s early learning conference gave us an inspiring look at the good work underway. But there is much to be done. Teachers report that more than half of the children in our state are not ready to learn when they enter kindergarten (“29 ways to be kindergarten ready”). As parents, we can go a long way to help by understanding our child’s own educational needs (“Learning styles: what parents need to know”).
LearningMap is our first all-education issue, born from our driving desire to see every child read . . . and every child learn. I hope you find something of interest in these pages.