As the bell rang for fourth period, “Sarah” entered her high school auditorium – but she wasn’t there for class. Sarah had just given birth one week prior, and was on maternity leave to care for her newborn. Instead of staying home, Sarah packed her diaper bag and strapped her baby into the car seat and ventured back to school to participate in United Way of the Quad Cities Area’s Born Learning Academy.
As Sarah learned while she was pregnant, the first few years of a child’s life are critical for growth and development. In fact, 90 percent of brain development happens before a child’s first day of kindergarten. That’s why Sarah enrolled in the Born Learning Academy, a series of six, free workshops that provide families with practical tools and resources to turn everyday activities – like bath time or driving to day care – into early learning moments.
As a global education initiative of United Way Worldwide, Born Learning has given more than 15 million parents in 14 countries the essential education tools they need to make the most of their children’s early years. Each workshop is led by trained professionals—usually local teachers, principals or other education staff—and focuses on topics specific to children younger than five years old such as relationship building, language skills, nutrition and health, as well as how children learn.
Since 2015, United Way of the Quad Cities Area has held 28 rounds of the Born Learning Academy, reaching 335 families from Scott County, Iowa to Rock Island County, Illinois. Through partnerships with local schools, libraries and hospitals, the Quad Cities Area Born Learning Academy provides families with free child-care and nutritious meals. For those that attend five of the six workshops, a tablet pre-loaded with age-appropriate apps is also provided. United Way of the Quad Cities Area also partners with local businesses, such as John Deere, to provide volunteer opportunities for their employees to experience first-hand how, through the Born Learning Academy, the community is coming together to better support our next generation.
“There’s no instruction manual that comes with having a child. We’re all in this together, and United Way is here to help better support our families and give our kids a strong start in life,” said Leslee Cook, Manager of Community Impact & Born Learning at the United Way of the Quad Cities Area.
Visit bornlearning.org to find a Born Learning Academy near you.