Last week, All Our Kin was extremely fortunate to have two enthusiastic, bright Yale undergrads spend their spring break working at All Our Kin. Read on to learn about their experiences with us.
My name is Jennifer Lunceford and I am a sophomore psychology major at Yale University. I am originally from St. Louis, MO, where my mother works as a pre-school teacher. My mother’s job has made me aware of the importance of early childhood education, but I am interested to learn about the long-term effects of early childhood education by working at All Our Kin this week. I hope to use this knowledge to guide my career path in education reform.
My name is Casey Graetz and I am a junior at Yale University majoring in American Studies with a concentration on violence and justice in America. I have gone to school in New Haven for my whole life and am interested in the possibility of working for a non-profit after college. All Our Kin has been a great opportunity for me to learn about the workings of a successful non-profit in a city that is very important to me.
As a junior and sophomore at Yale University this year, we both applied and were accepted to a one-week internship at All Our Kin during our spring break. We have been thrilled to learn about the operations of this incredibly successful nonprofit and impressed to witness how effective this dynamic and growing staff is.
Literacy, learning, and fun
On our second day at All Our Kin, which Jennifer was unfortunately unable to attend, I
(Casey) was given the opportunity to shadow an Educational Consultant, Quinn McGonagle, as she made a visit to a local child care provider Ifé. Ifé has transformed the basement of her home into a wonderful space where she cares for at least two children, Robert and Jomi, every day. When Quinn and I stopped by Ifé’s house Jomi’s older brother and sister were also staying for the day. Quinn explained that the purpose of this visit was to help Ifé explore different activities she could do with the children that incorporated child literacy, learning and fun.
Quinn brought the children’s book Mouse Paint and an assortment of colored paints for the children to experiment with. After hearing the story in which some creative mice learn to mix two colors to make a third, Quinn and Ifé helped all four children mix their own paints to see what they could come up with. After a little bit of a mess, and a lot of fun, it was clear that the activity was a huge success. The children were able to experience first-hand what happens when primary colors are mixed and went on to associate a fun morning with reading. After Ifé cleaned everyone up, Quinn read another story book out loud in a cozy nook that Ifè had set up for reading and napping, and even the youngest and most excitable Jomi put down his toys to hear Quinn read and look at the pictures.
Advocacy in action
On Wednesday, March 20 we were both able to attend Early Childhood Advocacy Day in Hartford. We could tell from the packed garage that it was a busy day at the Capitol. Upon entering, we noticed families gathering in the downstairs lobby and representatives from various non-profits concerned with early childhood education. Once we entered the room, we noticed cameras that were set up to record the speakers.
At the event we heard about H.B. 6359, an act proposing an office of early childhood. The speakers stressed the importance of this bill’s passage as this office would coordinate early childhood services within the state. We also heard from other advocates who informed us of proposed budget cuts which would affect afterschool education and early childhood education costs. Additionally, a speaker warned of a proposal that would change the birthday at which children are allowed to enter kindergarten. This proposal would result in thousands of children having to wait an additional year before attending school.
The final two speakers reviewed several recent proposals that would affect funding for early childhood education programs. They encouraged citizens to approach their legislators about these issues and advised those at the meeting about what to say to their legislators concerning these bills. We left wondering how the bills would fare as they are heard by legislators.
This week at All Our Kin we have had a variety of new experiences where we learned a great deal about the importance of early childhood education and the difficulties faced by childcare providers. We know there is still much to be done, both at the policy level and for individual providers, but we were happy to be able to contribute in a small way and to witness the wonderful staff of All Our Kin as they make strides for the young children and childcare providers of New Haven.