Caring relationships lead to early academic success

Caring relationships at home and in preschool are the foundation for a strong education.

It's the goal of most parents: to nurture a confident student who loves learning. Experts say the first five years are crucial.

“What happens early in life lasts a lifetime,” Steve Zwolak said.

At the University City Children's Center, Executive Director Steve Zwolak says it's all about relationships.

“Children of all ages need to know that people care for them,” he said.

Zwolak believes caring relationships at pre-school and at home set the stage for long-term academic success.

“In order to get kids ready, there's been a movement to take academic content and move it into preschool when kids still need to play,” he said. “So we're depriving them of the opportunity to learn how to develop relationships.”

“My 3-year-old grandson, he's very inquisitive,” said Eric McLemore. “He wants to know how things work.

McLemore, a retired army veteran, is caring for three grandchildren, including young Zaden.

“The time that they put in with the children: every child in this center is very important, no child is left out,” McLemore said.

The three adopted children of Libby Eversgerd have attended the u-city children's center.

“Because of my older children I've learned how to be an advocate for teachers developing relationships with my kids,” she said.

Technology is one of the newer challenges for parents. How do you keep up? When do you say no?

“The one thing that's definitely different that I don't feel confident about is technology,” Eversgerd said.

“She wants a cell phone. I don't think you're ready for a cellphone at the age of 7,” McLemore said.

“Often a child needs the word no or not yet or wait until you get older,” Zwolak said.

Experts recognize the essential early partnership between parents and their schools

“It's teachers and parents collaborating on a deeper understanding about the child's development,” Zwolak said.

“I've learned they do better in school when they feel a connection to their teacher,” Eversgerd said.


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