By Chloe Learey, Executive Director
April is Month of the Young Child (MOYC), and we are excited by all the opportunities the organizing committee has put together to help celebrate. There is a mix of virtual and in-person activities, and information can be found on our website at https://winstonprouty.org/moyc/.
The significance of this month is especially striking as we come out of a year of living in a pandemic. The importance of supports for families with young children, including quality early care and learning, has been magnified by the isolation and challenges of the past year, making it apparent to even those who were not necessarily concerned about early childhood before. This is clear in the support of a large majority of the Vermont legislature for House Bill 171 (H.171), which represents a major investment in shoring up the child care sector in the state. It is also clear in how COVID relief funds have been allocated to support everything from child care for essential workers to remote learning spaces for elementary students to summer programming to help kids get reconnected to each other and ready to go back to school full time.
Coming out of isolation and reconnecting with others is a vital part of moving forward for all ages in the next several months, and activities for April’s MOYC can help families stretch their wings a bit. Events like visiting Wild Carrot or Scott Farm, taking a “Signs of Spring” hike at The Grammar School, dropping by The Garland School campfire, doing a Wet Felting Fun workshop with Victoria from By Our Hands at Winston Prouty or exploring books and happiness with Everywhere Philosophy on the upper soccer field on the Prouty campus are wonderful opportunities to get out of the house for a planned activity and see other people in a safe way. Our emotional well-being, growth and development depends on being able to interact with others, and this is particularly true for our youngest children. Social-emotional development is primary in the early years, and this has been severely limited for most people over the past year. Some babies born during the pandemic have only ever interacted with their parents and siblings, which is wonderful and constrains the breadth of their experiences. We anticipate offering resources through multiple channels to help families evaluate and support their children’s development. Even simple tools such as those available through The Basics Vermont (https://winstonprouty.org/the-basics-vermont/) can be invaluable for families as our world’s re-open. You can get started by playing Basics Bingo during April!
There are some changes that occurred in our lives due to the COVID19 pandemic that we will want to consider keeping, and one of those is spending time outdoors more. Results from a survey we completed last fall included that 100% of families who responded noted that access to the outdoors was one of the values of raising children in this region. We are fortunate to have a campus that offers a variety of opportunities to interact with and in nature, and we hope to leverage this asset to encourage the kinds of connections and support we all need to move forward. Month of the Young Child is a great start.