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‘Building Blocks’ Pre-K Program Improves Child Care

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 02 Feb 2011 02:41pm | comments
A Chart showing improvement at Building Blocks Day Cares

First-year results of an early childhood education program show gains in the quality of care for infants and toddlers at some day care centers in Mississippi. As MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports the ultimate goal of the study is to implement a statewide pre-K program.

The average Mississippi day care scores 2 out of 7 on a scale that measures the quality of care they provide to the children, which is below minimum recommended standards.

Laurie Smith, the executive Director of Mississippi Building Blocks, says mentors were sent into 100 randomly selected day care centers across the state to show day care providers better ways to teach the children.

"We provided cribs, high chairs, books, pictures for the wall, sometimes we went in and painted. We did the whole room makeover experience in some of our classrooms. So basically, trying to teach those research best practices to teachers," Smith said.

Smith says day cares that had the mentors raised their grade to a 3 out of 7.

One of those day cares was Early Encounters Preschool in Hattiesburg. School director Jenny Kern says she wanted to improve her day care but struggled to find resources to help.

"There is training that the state provides but they tend to be ineffective You may be able to find programs that will offer you very minimal resources, a few books for your class rooms, or a few activities for your classrooms. But nothing on the scale that Building Blocks has provided us," Kern said.

Kern says teachers at her school continued to apply skills they learned even after the mentors left.

Jonathan Page says he was stunned by the improvement his 2-year old daughter Janiya made when the program went to her day care in Hazelhurst.

"She knows all of her colors. And now she is actually trying to distinguish the difference between different shapes like a prism and a rectangle, those kinds of things,"

The program is privately funded for three more years, and the second year will focus on 3-to-4 year old children.

Organizers hope that they will show enough results in that time to convince the legislature to pick up the tab and implement a state wide pre-K education program.

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A Chart showing improvement at Building Blocks Day Cares


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