At the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota, we make it our goal to “ignite the curiosity of every child.” Truly, all ages can enjoy the programs, exhibits, and activities we offer. But the first week of April is designated as “The Week of the Young Child,” and we are here for it.
Since 1971, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has partnered with over 60,000 families, government, providers, nonprofits and other family-serving organizations to highlight the importance of the early years (birth through age 8) through its annual Week of the Young Child™ celebration. The theme for #WOYC23 is “Step It Up.”
For Minnesota, “Step It Up” means supporting children, parents, families and educators as we work to strengthen and expand early childhood education with innovative programs and initiatives, such as the Minnesota Integrated Care for Early Childhood Initiative (MN-ICECI). Additionally, our governor is one of the many who have made a proclamation recognizing this important week.
Let’s explore why celebrating the WOYC is important and how you can participate in the festivities.
Why Celebrate the Week of the Young Child?
- Raise Awareness of Early Childhood Education
The WOYC provides an opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of early childhood education. Research has shown that early childhood education can have a significant impact on a child’s academic and social success in later years. By celebrating the WOYC, we can educate parents, caregivers, and policymakers about the benefits of investing in early childhood education.
- Highlight the Importance of Play
Play is an essential component of early childhood development. It helps children develop their social, emotional, and cognitive skills. By celebrating the WOYC, we can highlight the importance of play-based learning and encourage parents and caregivers to provide children with opportunities for unstructured play.
- Recognize Early Childhood Educators
Early childhood educators play a critical role in shaping the lives of young children. By celebrating the WOYC, we can recognize and appreciate the hard work and dedication of early childhood educators. It’s a chance to say “thank you” to the teachers who are making a difference in the lives of young children every day.
- Foster a Sense of Community
The WOYC provides an opportunity to bring together families, educators, and communities to celebrate early learning and development. It’s a chance to connect with others who share a passion for early childhood education and to build a sense of community around this important issue.
How to Participate in the Week of the Young Child
There are many ways to participate in the WOYC. Here are a few ideas:
1. Attend CMSM’s WOYC Events
Here at the Children’s Museum, we’ll be celebrating on April 5 through 7 with special events corresponding with this year’s themes (noted below). Stop in anytime this Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday and join in on the fun!
2. Host Your own Event
You can organize an event at your school or in your community to celebrate the WOYC. This could be a family picnic, a playdate, or a community art project. The possibilities are endless!
NAEYC has these days designated as themes:
- Music Monday: Music Monday is more than singing and dancing, it’s a way to encourage children to be active while developing their early literacy skills and having fun with friends and family!
- Tasty Tuesday: Tasty Tuesday isn’t just about eating your favorite snacks together. It’s also about cooking together and connecting math with literacy skills and science while introducing ways to incorporate healthy habits into children’s lifestyles.
- Work Together Wednesday: When children build together they experience teamwork and develop their social and early literacy skills. Grab some materials and create!
- Artsy Thursday: Children develop creativity, social skills, and fine muscles with open-ended art projects that let them make choices, use their imaginations, and create with their hands.
- Family Friday: Parents and families are children’s first teachers. Family Friday focuses on engaging families to support our youngest learners.
Resources available on the NAEYC website.
2. Share on Social Media
Use social media to spread the word about the WOYC. Share photos and stories from your classroom or home using the hashtag #woyc23.
3. Read to Children
Reading is an important part of early childhood development. During the WOYC, make a special effort to read to the children in your life. You could even host a read-aloud event at your school or library.
4. Say Thank You
Take a moment to say thank you to the early childhood educators in your life. Whether it’s a simple note, a small gift, or a heartfelt conversation, let them know how much you appreciate their hard work and dedication.
The Week of the Young Child is an important opportunity to celebrate early learning and development. By participating in the festivities, we can raise awareness of the importance of early childhood education, highlight the importance of play, recognize early childhood educators, and foster a sense of community. Let’s join together to celebrate the importance of “Stepping it up!” to highlight young learners and their caregivers and educators!
Reference: The NAEYC WOYC Website.