MCCC to Lead Children's Futures
"Family Literacy Project" in Trenton


Mercer County Community College invites Trenton area families with young children to participate in free workshops designed to help them learn together and grow together. The Trenton Family Literacy Project, funded by Children's Futures, targets families with children ages 0-3, as well as their older siblings. The first classes for the fall have begun; classes to begin at the end of October are currently forming.

Said Monica Weaver, dean of Mercer's James Kerney Campus (JKC) in downtown Trenton, "We are proud to assist Children's Futures with its mission to help every child be prepared for school and ready to learn. This program gives parents the tools they need to understand their children's development and prepare their toddlers for early literacy, including pre-reading and writing, through interactive, guided family activities. We are working at the community level to supplement and enrich the learning that goes on in the home."

Weaver notes that parents have many questions. "What should they expect of their child at various stages of development? How can they provide the kinds of activities at home that foster success in pre-school and beyond? Community organizations can play a key role in helping parents and other home caregivers lay the right foundation."

According to Weaver, research suggests that the first three years of life are critical to a child's social, emotional and cognitive development. "Parents want to learn, and they have much to teach," Weaver said. "By working with the whole family, we can help parents build their child's self-esteem in a supportive environment that emphasizes the foundations of language and emerging literacy." Workshop activities foster literacy through story-telling, art, music, pretend play, and sharing cultural traditions, while using storybooks to support language development. Participants will receive free books and activity kits to take home.

In addition to parents/at-home caregivers, the Children's Futures Family Literacy Project will also reach out to early childhood professionals, paraprofessionals, and other daycare workers who interact with children on a day-to-day basis in day care centers. In accordance with new requirements established by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), MCCC offers Infant/Toddler Certification, CDA courses, Adult Basic Education, GED and ESL classes, as well as an A.A. degree in Education and an A.A.S. degree in Education/Special Education Assistant. "All of these educational opportunities will enhance the ability of daycare workers to be effective instructors to our community's youngest children," Weaver said. She notes that the state has set 2012 as the certification target date for all workers.

Most workshops will be held for four sessions, but some may run longer, depending upon the needs of the group. Classes are small and arranged at convenient times and locations. In addition to Mercer's James Kerney Campus at Broad and Academy Streets, other sites include Home Front, El Centro, Trenton Public Schools, and UIH Family Partners. Workshops at other sites, including day care centers, may be arranged by calling Program Coordinator Dana Green at (609) 570-3176.
The mission of Children's Futures is to improve health and development outcomes for children and their families through community initiatives. Children's Futures has been developing programs for Trenton families since 2001 through the generous support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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