United Way Helps Impact Education for Kids
What happens in preschool influences a child’s entire academic journey. That’s why United Way of Greater Cleveland is working to give our kids a good start in high-quality preschools as measured by the state’s Step Up to Quality one- to five-star rating system.
Preschools teach children the basics they need before going into kindergarten, from the ABCs to how to interact with classmates. But when children suffer trauma at home or in the community, their behavior in the classroom can change — stunting preschooler’s social and emotional development.
Murtis Taylor Human Services System provides training and counseling for preschool teachers to help students cope with events they may have experienced outside school, including neglect and being the victims of or witnessing violence.
Funded in part by United Way of Greater Cleveland, it provides for an observational technical assistance program to support children’s caregivers in and outside the classroom. Running alongside programs like Head Start and early intervention, it picks up where learning ABCs and 123s leaves off — imparting communication and emotional regulation skills on students.
Brittany Baker, a teacher at the preschool in Murtis Taylor’s Kinsman Road location, takes advantage of the technical assistance program and says it is important to focus on social and emotional development during preschool because it’s when students “come into themselves.” Now, Baker has the resources to help her students build self-esteem and balance their emotions while teaching them to express themselves with words rather than actions.
“I’ve seen a lot of things surprise me here. It’s like kindergarten’s going off into the ‘real world,’” she laughs. “I’m letting them go and then I get reports back like ‘you guys did awesome.’ No more meltdowns, no more kicking and screaming when mom drops off, just really, really strong in the social emotional area.”