Young children in certain pre-schools will be benefitting soon from a ground-breaking new early years literacy programme, thanks to the non-profit organisation, Literacy is For Everyone (LIFE).
LIFE has teamed up with the Cayman Islands Early Childhood Association (CIECA) to bring Thrive By Five firstly to Precious Gems Preschool on Walkers Road this September, and then it is to be rolled out to eight preschools in total over the coming two years. LIFE organisers say the programme is designed to foster a love of language and extends the scope of LIFE programmes to target children in the birth to five age-range.
The programme has been sponsored by Deloitte Cayman Islands and their Head of Corporate Responsibility and WorldClass programmes, Clarisa Pelozzi, said it would provide a unique platform for children to develop a vital skillset, to succeed in both their learning and throughout all stages of their lives.
Underscoring the importance of introducing literacy to children at a very early age, Juliet Austin, LIFE’s Executive Director, explained that decades of research showed that early investment in literacy could have a profound impact on brain development and learning, with its benefits far exceeding academics.
“As well as raising educational achievement and future job prospects, high literacy levels improve health and wellness, eliminate poverty, impact crime and incarcerations rates, and ensure long-term socio-economic stability for all,” she said.
Thrive By Five is made up of several elements, including LIFE’s signature curated classroom libraries. Participating preschools receive high-interest classroom libraries to support the Early Years Curriculum, with culturally appropriate titles selected by dedicated LIFE volunteer, Kirsten Penner, to promote diversity and inclusion, while cultivating a lifelong love of language and books.
LIFE intends to use the programme to help bolster training for teachers, with each member of staff engaged in the Thrive By Five programme receiving professional learning opportunities courtesy of LIFE’s new 10-point Teacher Education Video series.
The series was written and devised by CIECA President, Nicola Williams, and is delivered by a host of local educational specialists, including: government Literacy Specialist Yosha Alphonse; Acting Director of the Early Childhood Care and Education Unit Dr Pearlyn Burrell; LIFE Board Member and Early Childhood advocate Reina Jefferson and Village Montessori owner, Jeifrene Small.
Workshops will be held as well to support parents and caregivers.
Ms Williams said that early childhood education was a highly specialised field and Thrive By Five focused on engaging with the most up-to-date research.
“Many people think that literacy begins when children learn how to read and write words, but the building blocks for literacy are formed much earlier. When literacy experiences are personal, purposeful, and embedded in context, young children gain a deeper understanding of how print helps people to organise and express themselves and get along with others,” she said.