Children’s Enrichment Program
The Children’s Enrichment Program (CEP) offered through The Craddock Center delivers music, creative movement/dance, and storytelling to 940 Head Start and Pre-K children in nine counties in north Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Six arts specialists spend 100 hours in classrooms every month, and, through feedback we have received, the children truly enjoy and look forward to these classes.
Researchers have found that language and literacy development are reinforced by the arts. Movement, music, singing, dance, and other arts techniques are all methods of improving a child’s emergent literacy, problem-solving skills, conceptual and verbal skills, and ability to concentrate and remember. The process of teaching songs has traditionally centered around rote methods that use echo-style activities where children listen, then imitate. However, according to Wesley Ball, Ph.D., “research suggests that a sensory approach, using visual, kinesthetic (physical) stimuli along with the aural (hearing) yields greater understanding of song lyrics.” This is the approach the CEP follows.
Each month, the CEP’s Program Coordinator develops curriculum with stated goals in mind (e.g., an activity may emphasize phonics, a section of a song may focus on number recognition). The curriculum is distributed to the arts specialists, who employ artwork, puppetry, and movement to enhance the selected theme. The songs used in the classroom each month are pre-recorded onto CD by the Program Coordinator; each classroom is given a CD to keep and replay for the children throughout the week, thus reinforcing our efforts absent our presence.
Our goal of improving the emotional, mental and physical well being of children, while reinforcing self-esteem, is accomplished through our Children’s Enrichment Program. It is our policy to call each child’s name during each classroom session, a simple way to affirm to each child that s/he is special. We also encourage parents and extended family to support their child’s artistic endeavors, welcoming interested parents into the classroom and also promoting special programs/performances throughout the year.
As a part of the Children’s Enrichment Program, we distribute books to children and teachers, and also to Head Start Centers to build their parent lending libraries. The federally-funded Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, which began in 1998 and will follow approximately 38,000 children, found that children who had a family member read to them three times a week or more were nearly twice as likely to score in the top quartile in reading than children who were read to less frequently.*
(*Denton, Kristen and Gerry West, Children’s Reading and Mathematics Achievement in Kindergarten and First Grade, U.S. Department of Education, NCES, Washington, DC, 2002.)
What Head Start teachers and directors are saying to us about the Children’s Enrichment Programs.
FROM THE FACTS
- One out of every six American children – 12.9 million – live below the poverty line ($15,000.00 a year for a family of three).
- One-third of these are in families with at least one full time worker. Of these 3.9 million are Black, 4.1 million are Hispanic, 4.2 million are White.
- Most poor children live in rural not urban areas.
Head Start is a federally funded program for poor pre-schoolers but the funding is so low, only half the eligible children have a place in the program. Vote; speak, give.
Here are excerpts from two letters:
“The children go around singing the songs all the time and this is great for their language skills. They also get to use social skills by talking and interacting with the teachers. Parents tell us often that the children let them know when it is music day or if the storyteller is coming to visit..”
—— Dawson County
“Our children’s lives are greatly enriched by the music, dance and the drama of the storytellers. The only way you could improve would be to try to stretch our days a little longer! We both hear wonderful stories from our parents about their children singing and dancing and telling stories at home and in the car. So you are not just touching these little lives, but the whole family.”
—— Gilmer County
As you know, our Children’s Enrichment Program reaches 1200 children each week. These children live in Pickens, Dawson, Gilmer, Fannin, Union, Towns, and Lumpkin counties in Georgia, in Polk County, Tennessee, and in Cherokee County, North Carolina.
But it occurred to me that outside the Head Start and Pre-K schools probably not many folk in those counties know we come to their children with this program. It also occurred to me that if they did know, they probably would like to encourage us with some support.
So —— if a civic club or other community organization would like for us to provide a program about who we are and what we do, give us a call. We would love to come.