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Posted April 19, 2013

Early Childhood Education Celebrated on Day Named for Long-time Advocate

To celebrate Lenore Wolfe Day on Monday, April 22, early childhood teachers are planning special activities for children that highlight the joy of play and learning.

The fourth Monday of April each year has been designated Lenore Wolfe Day of Playing and Learning in honor of the former APS school board president and tireless advocate for early childhood education.

Wolfe dedicated her life to improving the quality of programs and services for young children, families and professionals both within Albuquerque Public Schools and the community.

Lenore Wolfe Day falls on Monday of the Week of the Young Child™, an annual celebration sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The purpose of the Week of the Young Child™ is to focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs.

In Wolfe's memory, early childhood teachers are planning special activities for children that highlights the joy of play and learning.

Since 2004, APS has provided early childhood education through New Mexico PreK, a voluntary program created by the Pre-Kindergarten Act of 2005 and jointly administered by the state Public Education Department and the Children, Youth and Families Department. The purpose of PreK is to ensure that every child in New Mexico has the opportunity to attend a high quality early childhood program before entering kindergarten.

In the past decade, APS has gone from serving 80 four year olds in two elementary schools to 616 four year olds in thirteen elementary schools.

The purpose of New Mexico PreK is defined as follows:

  • Increase access to voluntary high-quality pre-kindergarten programs
  • Provide developmentally appropriate activities for New Mexico children
  • Expand early childhood community capacity
  • Support linguistically and culturally appropriate curriculum
  • Focus on school readiness

Research from the PEW Center (2011) shows that high-quality PreK is essential for raising school performance. It multiplies the effects of later reforms by narrowing early achievement gaps and ensuring that children are fully prepared to learn and thrive academically, physically, socially and emotionally.

“Participation in high-quality early education programs not only improves early literacy and math skills, but is also associated with later academic performance in the primary grades and beyond," according to the NM PreK annual report.

The report indicates that young children who have higher math skills before kindergarten tend to score higher in future reading and math assessments. Other research indicates that those who have the opportunity to develop strong literacy and language skills are more likely to become proficient readers in the primary grades.

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