Early literacy instruction at The Learning Station, Ellenwood

by Robin Kemp

The Learning Station in Ellenwood is one of eight Georgia daycare centers to win recognition for its language and literacy efforts. Teaching children to read and write before pre-K is critical to helping them develop their love of learning, succeed in school and go on to higher-paying jobs as adults.

The first Quality Rated Language and Literacy Endorsements recognize childcare centers “that demonstrated a commitment to providing high-quality, language-rich environments to Georgia’s youngest learners.” according to a press release from Governor Brian Kemp’s office. The program is designed to support early language learning for ages 0 to 5.

“It is exciting to recognize this first group of Quality Rated Language and Literacy Endorsement recipients,” Kemp said. “Providers serving infant-toddlers, preschoolers, and Georgia’s Pre-K students have a great opportunity and responsibility to help children build strong pre-reading skills during a critical stage of their development. I am confident as more early educators meet the criteria and benchmarks to receive this Endorsement, we will be able to give all of our young learners the strongest possible foundation for academic achievement and overall success in life.”

The eight centers were chosen to take part because they had won multiple-star Quality Rated recognition, “as well as their impressive records of care and service to a significant number of children, including those receiving Childcare and Parent Services (CAPS) scholarships.”

Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) Commissioner Amy M. Jacobs congratulated The Learning Station and the other awardees, adding, “It is especially commendable that they completed the program while confronting numerous challenges presented by the COVID pandemic. Their perseverance demonstrates an admirable commitment to providing high-quality literacy instruction to Georgia’s children and to helping design best practices which will be the standard throughout Georgia.”

The awardees met the following requirements:

  • finishing a rigorous nine-month training and professional development program
  • demonstrating “a commitment to developing meaningful, intentional, and individualized literacy instruction that follows accepted standards”
  • creating an approved language and literacy instruction sustainability plan

DECAL, along with a panel of early care and education experts, developed the endorsement program’s criteria, components, structure, and resources. Teachers were trained in language development in very young children. as well as best practices for teaching language and literacy. Center directors did about 60 hours of professional training, including “knowledge, skills, and tools to strengthen learning environments and foster quality improvement in early education settings.” They earned a certificate in Early Education Leadership from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Each daycare provider received a Continuous Quality Improvement Sustainability Bonus Payment, a technology grant to support the completion of the virtual (online) training courses, and a variety of literacy and language instruction classroom materials.

In addition, both teachers and directors were awarded stipends “of varying amounts.”

Other winners include:

  • Atlanta: Minnie Howell Child Development Center
  • Palmetto: ABC, Another Bright Creation Early Learning and Daycare Center
  • Conyers: Discovery Point #61
  • Clarkston: Giselle Learning Academy
  • Statesboro: Kid’s World Learning Center
  • Mableton: Rising Star Learning Center
  • Dalton: Whitfield-Dalton Day Care Center

The endorsement was funded by the Sandra Dunagan Deal Center for Early Language and Literacy and the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five.

Learn more about DECAL Scholars, which offers professional learning for child care educators.

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Robin Kemp is executive editor and CEO of The Clayton Crescent, which she founded in 2020. She has worked for Gambit, CNN, The Weather Channel, Clayton News, Henry Herald, and numerous freelance outlets....

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