We know the value of a high-quality early childhood education because we see it impact the lives of children and families every day.
But what does the big picture look like in our community? In addition to the experiential feedback we get from families, we look at best practices, trends, and regional data. Here are a few of the facts that shape what we do, and how we do it.
Only 41% of Hispanic children in Minneapolis are ready for kindergarten when they get there. This number is even more discouraging when the focus is narrowed to Spanish-speakers (only 36% are kindergarten-ready).
41% of Minneapolis Hispanic children also live in poverty. Poverty has its own host of linked repercussions, including obesity, food insecurity, and toxic stress — all of which affect a child’s ability to succeed in school.
Joyce approaches these statistics with a simple perspective: to give children their best opportunities, we don’t just enroll preschoolers, but we work in partnership with families. At-home circumstances affect in-school success, so classroom time isn’t enough on its own; we emphasize empowering, educating, and involving our families. We are proud that 100% of our graduates last year were ready for kindergarten — whatever language they spoke, whichever background they came from.
The evidence continues to pile up that the benefits of high-quality early childhood education are worth the investment, and one of few ways to promote true economic development. For every $1 invested in high-quality early childhood education, communities see a huge return — studies suggest at least $8 and as much as $12.
More than half of Hispanics and Latinos in Minnesota weren’t born in the United States. Immigrants face a variety of linguistic and cultural challenges, and while the causes are complex, data shows children from immigrant families are less likely to attend preschool, and Hispanic children are one of the least likely major ethnic groups to enroll.
In addition to working toward kindergarten readiness, Joyce’s program affirms each child’s first language and culture, which provides a strong foundation for children to succeed in school and learn a second language. Our program is linguistically and culturally accessible to a variety of families, and provides a safe space for immigrant and Spanish-speaking families to learn the skills they need to navigate an English-dominant school system. Starting to learn a second language early also increases the skill level students can achieve, has cognitive benefits at all ages, and provides a lifelong skill necessary to compete in the global marketplace.
Language development begins with the words a child hears, which is why The 30 Million Word Gap is so worrying. By age 4, children from low-income homes hear, on average, 30 million fewer words than their counterparts in higher income brackets. This affects vocabulary growth and language development their entire lives.
Joyce addresses this gap by providing literacy programming that focuses on the whole family, encouraging families to read at home in both languages and providing literacy-focused activities that parents and children can engage in together.
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While preschool of any kind makes a difference for children, it is high-quality programs that make the biggest difference. If all programs were high-quality, U.S. preschool education could be 10 times more effective in closing the achievement gap.
Joyce is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Only 1 in every 4 preschool programs in Minnesota are NAEYC accredited; the process subjects the program to intense levels of scrutiny, and ensures we follow the highest standards for best practices in our field. Joyce values the quality of its program as paramount, and invests in the continued professional development of its teachers.