Milton Area High School early childhood students and staff attended the Champions of Early Childhood Early Education 2018 Summit at Country Cupboard. They included (from left) Jennifer Mabus (aide), Jazmine Nicholas, Emily Zellers, Cameryn Guisewite, Carrie Campbell, Alyse Goodwin, Alyssa Mitchell, Mekayla Schreck, Brianna Hulsizer, Kylee Hill, Samantha Aikey, Adrien Krall and Amanda Smith (teacher).

Photo by Matt Farrand/The Standard-Journal.

LEWISBURG — Northumberland County’s quality child care “desert” recently received some relief.

It was noted at the Champions of Early Childhood Education 2018 Summit that the Milton YMCA child care center has been deemed a Star 3 center. It is the first in the county to be so designated under the PA Stars program.

Jody Reuss, child care director for the Greater Susquehanna Valley YMCA Milton Branch, attended the summit and credited the rapport her staff has with the young people for the program’s success.

“That’s our number one focus, relationship building,” Reuss said. “It’s what we really...try to do, is build those relationship and be that ‘one.’”

Reuss referred to a presentation by Dana Winters, director of simple interactions and academic programs for the Fred Rogers Center in Latrobe.

Winters explained that day-to-day interactions between children and the people they see daily, such as crossing guards, can keep them engaged in life around them and learning.

“At the end of the day, what really matters is what (Rogers) would call the ‘holy ground’ between two people,” Winters said. “That what is happening between an adult and a child is what helps them to develop in a positive and successful way.”

A caregiver may be the “one,” Winters noted, to diffuse stress which could inhibit a child’s development.

Stephanie Doliveira, member of the state Early Learning Investment Committee member, said research shows that quality early childhood education helps improve a person’s executive function in later life.

“Those are the skills that we need of our future workforce,” she said.

Doliveira, a vice-president of human resources for Sheetz Inc., said executive function skills include, remembering information, self-discipline and prudent responses to changing situations.

Art Thomas, Early Learning Investment Committee chair, noted that children up to grade three are learning to read.

“From third grade on, they are reading to learn,” Thomas said. “If they are not ready to read, they will fall behind.”

Thomas said learning opportunities for children in at-risk environments are closing as time goes by. Though improvement has been seen, local figures indicate there are still areas which need attention.

The gathering at Country Cupboard, Lewisburg, watched a recently produced video which illustrated the need for parents to talk, sing and read to their young children. It stressed that stimulating the brain of the toddler builds their brain connections. Parents will be shown the video before their newborns are discharged from area hospitals, including Evangelical Community Hospital, Lewisburg.

“Baby talk,” the video advised, should be avoided.

The meeting was attended by more than 200 people, including 11 early childhood students from Milton Area High School. Their teacher, Amanda Smith, and Jennifer Mabus, an aide, accompanied the group.

Staff Writer Matt Farrand can be reached at 570-742-9671 and via email at matt@standard-journal.com.

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