The Importance of Early Childhood Education
Dear Members and Friends,
Our president on his State of the Union address showed how sensitive he is to early childhood education. His proposal that we fund a program for early child education sometimes called infant education to prepare children for school. The first thousand hours of a child’s life determines much of the future. If a child is breast fed that is good preparation for speech. Studies show that bottle fed babies have difficulty acquiring language. So much depends also on the emotional environment of the newborn. We know now that Headstart, as good as it is, is not sufficient preparation for public school. Ada McKinley Community Services had an infant education program on the south side of Chicago. Tutors worked with babies in both English and Spanish. One of the families had 16 children and you can imagine how much attention that 16th baby received. That baby was in a crib in a separate room and received attention only by feeding.
The psychologist on the staff said that our intervention was much too late. He advised our social workers to begin with the pregnant mother. He said age three is much too late to begin education.
Let us hope that the Congress and the citizens catch the President’s vision for enrichment programs for the very young. We know from early objections that some people think it is a good idea, but will be much too costly given the precarious state of our economy. Such a program, however, will not be sufficient. This is the point at which we must talk about the importance of religious education. We want to grow children with passionate minds and intelligent hearts. I am so thankful for the work of David Sarra with our children. A healthy democracy demands citizens who cannot only think critically, but feel deeply the centrality of justice. Love, power, and justice compose the trinity which should govern our educational system. Children should learn at a young age that it is better to pick up a book than a gun.
You can see that we must work to eliminate violent games and movies from the TV screen. There are studies which show that children who are exposed to many hours of violent TV often copy the behavior and attitudes which do violence to the original goodness of the child.
The United States has more to share with the world than guns, bombers, and sophisticated weapons of destruction. We can offer the world young people who choose to be healers and nurturers rather than ambitious money-makers and killers. Yes, preschool education will cost a great deal of money, but it is a program we dismiss or neglect at our peril. Let us support our president as he begins to work with Congress and educators to make possible generations of children who think critically and love without boundaries of race, creed, and religion.
The Unitarian-Universalist Church has been a pioneer in religious education. Leaders such as Sophia Fahs, Jean Williams, and Peg Sullivan set the stage for the great programs we now have in our church schools. Let us remember to express our gratitude to Dave Sarra and the teachers who volunteer every week to see that our religious education programs have our full support. Remember the next president of the United States may be sitting in one of our classrooms every Sunday.
On March 14th I am off to Germany to see my three German pediatricians and their families. They are like my own children for they lived with me in Chicago during their special residency in pediatrics at the University of Chicago Medical School. On returning on March 24th, I will open in Sawyer and soon hope to see you all in good health.
- Rev. Beth Lefever in Cordova, Tennessee
- The Quest for Certainty
- Welcome to the Age of Unreason
- Proclaiming the Inerrancy of Scripture
- Spiritual Deepening
- The Eternal Is Always Present
- Emptiness and Creativity
- Love, Power, and Justice
- Rejoice in the New Year!
- Christmas Giving
- Envy and Resentment
- Remembering 9-11
- A Look Back on the U.S.A.'s 50-Year War on Indian Children
- Carnality and Spirituality