By Jenette Jurczyk
The Junior League of Champaign-Urbana (JLCU) is ready to launch “Junior League Bright Starts”, a new program to provide preschool-aged children an introduction to the classroom and better prepare them and their families for school. The pilot-year program will provide monthly preschool academic instruction and social-emotional skill building to children who are on the preschool waiting list at Urbana Early Childhood (UEC) and provide their parents/guardians with ideas and materials to reinforce these skills.
JLCU’s intention is to answer a need in the Champaign-Urbana community for children currently on the waitlist of early education programs, such as Head Start. Urbana Early Childhood, for example, had 149 children on their waiting list in the 2013-14 academic year. Kids who do not make it into preschool start school without the basic skills needed and families may be unable to provide these skills due to lack of education in early childhood development.
“We are very fortunate to be collaborating with the JLCU,” says Cris Vowels, Principal at Urbana Early Childhood School. “Thanks to their vision and commitment to improve the lives of children in our schools, we’ll be able to reach more Urbana pre-k students than ever to ensure that they are ready for Kindergarten. We hope the parents whose children are waiting for a space to open in our school will take advantage of the evening activities being offered this school year.”
The program is designed to serve 40 children with each session. Classes will meet once a month in September-November and January-April, for a total of seven classes. Sessions will alternate each month between academic instruction and social-emotional skill building. The sessions will be held at UEC from 5:30-7:00 p.m., and families will be provided with dinner in the first half hour before moving into classrooms for the following hour. Childcare will be provided for siblings of children attending class and students and parents will receive materials to take home to continue and reinforce their lessons.
JLCU President, Denise Bates, shares her enthusiasm as well. “The Junior League of Champaign-Urbana is very excited and proud to be launching our new Junior League Bright Starts program partnering with Urbana Early Childhood. We cannot wait to see the impact that this new program will have on our Community.”
For more information on Junior League Bright Starts and other JLCU programs, visit the JLCU website. The Junior League of Champaign-Urbana is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.