Kids begin learning before they’re even born. By the time children start kindergarten, their brains are already 90 percent developed. Children’s Institute believes our education system can do more for kids during this critical period of development. Neighborhood schools can serve children long before they enter kindergarten and provide meaningful support to parents and families before and during elementary school.

Our Early Works initiative demonstrates what happens when school districts, community partners, parents, and funders come together with a shared vision to support the early learning and healthy development of young children: Kids arrive at kindergarten ready to learn, parents feel welcome at the school and empowered to support their children’s learning, and the school community flourishes.

 

 

Located in the David Douglas School District in Southeast Portland, Oregon, Earl Boyles Elementary School is one of two Early Works sites.

The school serves a culturally and linguistically diverse group of low-income families. Through our comprehensive, community-based Early Works initiative, Earl Boyles now offers high-quality preschool, an Early Kindergarten Transition program, summer literacy programs, infant-toddler play and learn groups, a food pantry, and connections to housing and health care supports.

Since 2010, children at Earl Boyles have improved their kindergarten readiness and parents have become leaders in the community and empowered participants in their children’s learning. Going forward, Early Works aims to increase participation in 0–3 play groups and support children’s learning at home, ensuring all children in the area are ready for preschool and beyond.

Many partners, including the David Douglas School District, Mt. Hood Community College Head Start, and Multnomah Early Childhood Program, have come together to provide high-quality early learning programs and supports starting at birth, parenting education to engage families, and health supports and other social services for families.

Other partners also operate within the school, supporting early learning, engaging families, and offering health supports and other social services:

  • Children’s Book Bank
  • Home Forward
  • Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization (IRCO)
  • Latino Network
  • Metropolitan Family Services (MFS)
  • Mt. Hood Community College Head Start
  • Multnomah County Library
  • Multnomah Early Childhood Program (MECP)
  • Padres Unidos (Parents United)
  • Reading Results
  • SMART (Start Making a Reader Today)

As a community-driven initiative, Early Works must continue to be responsive to the needs of a diverse and changing population. Too many children from linguistically diverse backgrounds continue to enter preschool at Earl Boyles with low language skills, and too many families struggle to access the resources they need to support learning at home.

In the next phase of the initiative, we will deepen our work in early health and reduce academic disparities through culturally responsive teaching and learning from preschool through fifth grade.

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