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Rebecca Richards is an estate planning and taxation attorney from New York. This “recovering attorney” is enjoying all that Miami has to offer – whether it be attending one of the many Miami festivals, touring historic Villa Vizcaya, or sunning on South Beach. Previously, Becky published scholarly articles on estate planning and taxation, and is now is exploring her creativity to write feature articles on a wide variety of topics. While living on Long Island, she was involved in several community service projects and hopes to continue this work in Miami by spreading the word to others through writing. Becky also enjoys music, all things outdoors, meeting new people, and reading. She received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Western Connecticut State University and her law degree from Hofstra University School of Law. Becky can be reached at rebecca.richards@charityandlife.com

United Way Of Miami-Dade Prepares Parents And Young Children For Back-To-School


As summer winds down, many parents may be preparing their young children for pre-school. Finding a quality early care program and being involved in a child’s education are essential as many life-long skills begin to develop during a child’s early years. The Center for Excellence in Early Education, opened by the United Way of Miami-Dade in 2007, has suggestions and tips on how parents can support their child’s learning process, foster early literacy and be involved in the classroom.

Suggestions for Parents

(Photo Credit: United Way of Miami-Dade)

(Photo Credit: United Way of Miami-Dade)

1. Quality Education & Early Care

Early care is essential, and can have long-term effects on a child’s maturation and development. In 2011, Science published a study performed by researchers at the University of Minnesota on the positive effects of early education. The study followed 1,400 low-income children in Chicago over a 25-year period. Researchers found that those children who attended a quality pre-school program were less likely to commit a crime, be arrested or serve time in jail.

“Children who attend quality pre-school and early care develop character traits, expectations, social, emotional and cognitive skills that help them stay in school when the going gets tough, social skills that help them develop relationships with teachers, and have a more positive view of school in general,” said Dr. Elizabeth Leight, Advisory Board Chair of the United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education.

2. Parental Involvement at Home

Parental involvement in the learning process is an important aspect of a child’s learning, as parents “are a child’s first teacher.” Experts at the Center for Excellence in Early Education suggests that parents spend quality, uninterrupted time with their children each day by playing with a purpose, speaking to their babies in normal language (no baby talk) and narrating daily activities (e.g., describing a trip to the grocery store), and other similar activities. Parents should also read to their children for at least 20 minutes each day to promote a love of reading and early literacy. Research shows that children who learn to read at an early age are more likely to succeed in math, social studies and science; graduate from high school; and continue to higher education.

(Photo Credit: United Way of Miami-Dade)

(Photo Credit: United Way of Miami-Dade)

In addition to the amount of parental interaction that a child receives at home, a parent’s attitude towards education can impact the child and influence his or her educational experience. By maintaining a positive attitude about school, ensuring that children attend and arrive on time to school each day and encouraging children to enjoy school, parents can support the learning process by creating an environment that values schooling.

3. Parental Involvement in the Classroom

Parents are their child’s “strongest advocate” and know their child’s strengths and weaknesses best. By being actively involved in the classroom, parents can collaborate with teachers and focus on areas that can be improved upon while in the classroom or while at home. In this way, parents and teachers work together so that the child can attain his or her highest potential.

The United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education

The United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education advocates for improving education standards and involving parents in the learning process. Its mission of creating and implementing an innovative and collaborative approach is put into practice at the Demonstration School, which is attended by children ages 6 weeks to five years old.

(Photo Credit: United Way of Miami-Dade)

(Photo Credit: United Way of Miami-Dade)

Mary Samour, an infant and toddler teacher at the Demonstration School, is dedicated to the school and its unique learning model. “I am challenged to think outside my comfort zone, engaging my thoughts not only about myself but about the world around me,” she said. “To be able to teach, you must be able to learn. The school gives me the opportunity to keep on learning, making me a better teacher.”

The Demonstration School utilizes an approach that engages children in skill-building projects based on their interests. Each project is a “child-centered, specific investigation into a topic” that builds skills in creative thinking, writing, math and science. The school’s “open-door policy” provides parents with frequent email updates, welcomes parents into the classroom before and after school for informal parent-teacher conferences and offers parents various trainings so that they can create the best possible home environment.

The United Way of Miami-Dade is committed to providing all area children with access to quality education. Its professional staff is available to assist parents interested in enrolling their child in the Center. In addition to its Center for Excellence in Early Education, the United Way of Miami-Dade funds various educational programs, ranging from early education to high school, at several local non-profit organizations.

(Photo Credit: United Way of Miami-Dade)

(Photo Credit: United Way of Miami-Dade)

Information regarding the Center’s registration process is available here.

The Center’s “recommended practices” are available here.

To donate to the United Way of Miami-Dade and help fund its meaningful work, please click here.

Information in this article was provided by the United Way of Miami-Dade.

The United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education
3250 Southwest 3rd Ave.
Miami, FL 33129
Ph. (305) 631-7600

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