kids campus

Education never stops

By Bill Knief

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THE KIDS’ CAMPUS

Tracy Jaramillo is the new interim director of the Early Learning Center at UNM-Taos. The Kids’ Campus, as the state-of-the-art facility is called, now has three classrooms which match their summer programs: an infant room for children six weeks to 18 months, a toddler room for kids 18 to 35 months, and a classroom for three-to-five year olds, along with secure outdoor play areas. In the fall they will add a New Mexico Pre-K program for four year olds funded by the Children, Youth and Family Division. According to Jaramillo, classes for fall are filling up fast, but there are still a few first come, first served openings for the summer program.

“The early years, zero to five, have been proven to be crucial to a child’s later development,” Jaramillo said. “Recent research has shown a link between high quality early childhood education and later success in school clear up to the college level.”

Some people feel that children should not be rushed into school too early, but Jaramillo maintains that it is never too early for children to learn, as long as they are not pushed along too fast. “They are learning the moment they are born through interactions with the environment and the people around them,” she said. “We believe in developmentally appropriate practices, not teaching children to read, for instance, by drilling the ABC’s. We expose them to rich literature, to language and a rich environment. The teacher’s role is to observe the child and scaffold their learning through what the teacher can add to the environment. It’s more experiential, and developing social skills is a huge part of early learning. We are working with Dr. Amy Franklin in the psychology department on emotional intelligence in schools and with parents. We are developing a common language among our staff.

“I would invite parents to come by the Klauer campus and observe. If they give me a call beforehand at 758-6295 we can take a tour and I can explain the program. Our prices are very competitive with other programs. It is good for parents to have a variety of options, and you don’t have to be a UNM-Taos student or faculty to qualify.

“It’s great for parents to come by and see teachers and kids in action.”

THE LITERACY CENTER

Less than a month ago Judy Hofer, director of the Literacy Center, was handing out GED diplomas at UNM-Taos graduation night, and now she has just finished moving her entire program from the Taos County Economic Development Center on Salazar road to the UNM-Taos administration building at 115 Civic Plaza Drive. She took a moment to reflect on what this change represents.

“We’re right in the center of town,” she said. “We have more space, a gorgeous computer lab and classrooms with lots of windows. And we’re more integrated with UNM-Taos now. It’s easier for us to help students not only get their GED but also to transition to UNM-Taos if that’s what they want to do.”

In addition to GED preparation (in both English and Spanish) the Literacy Center offers classes in English as a Second Language and Adult Literacy and Life Skills.

“Sometimes we get people who are planning their entire career path, and sometimes we get people who don’t want their GED but who need help with their reading, writing and math skills to start a business, help their children with math homework, read to their grandchildren, maybe just get a driver’s license or pass a test. Perhaps they need to brush up on their computer skills so they can apply for a job online. We can help them with all that. It’s not education off the rack around here. It’s all custom designed, and we welcome everyone.

“The goals are never too large or too small. All you have to do is call our new number, 737-3730, or come by and see us.

“Oh, and did I mention that all of our services are free?”

About The Bill Knief

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