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Early Learning

Teacher reading a picture book to families in an ECFE class

Early Learning Development

Learning starts well before a child enters kindergarten, which is why we offer programs and supports to help parents and caregivers create learning environments for our youngest children. Our birth to age 5 programming offers everything from one time drop-in events, to targeted interventions to support children wherever they are in their developmental journey.

  • Family classes and activities are offered throughout the year and often include open play time, sensory experiences, songs and stories, or simply time for parents to connect with other adults while their children play! Find classes in the Richfield Community Education online catalog.
     
  • Our Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) classes are a well-loved Minnesota tradition! These classes are for children and their caregiver to attend together and include group play time and an adult discussion about common issues that arise while raising a child. Classes may be age-specific, or a multi-age experience. The classes are taught by licensed teachers who specialize in early childhood and are a wonderful opportunity for families to connect. In fact, many families stay connected throughout their children’s entire education! 
     
  • We also offer preschool and prekindergarten programs for children ages 3 and 4 that provide a more “independent” learning experience for your child. These classes are a wonderful way for your child to gain confidence and social emotional skills as they begin to experience a classroom environment away from their family. They provide a chance for children to make new friends and offer an introduction to “academics” through thoughtful play experiences. Kindergarten teachers appreciate the skills that our preschool graduates bring with them to the “big kid” classrooms!
     
  • For our families who feel that their child may have needs that are outside a standard classroom environment, we offer a wonderful Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) program. Through ECSE, families can access high-quality assessments and interventions that meet the needs of children and families where they are at. Our services range from in-home visits for our birth to 2-year-old students to inclusive learning environments for our preschool-aged children. We strongly encourage families to reach out through Help Me Grow with any concerns—early intervention is effective!
     
  • Finally, we also offer our standard Early Childhood Screening (a requirement for all students prior to enrolling in kindergarten), as well as support from our fabulous bilingual outreach workers, translation services, parent support home visiting and other community-wide special events. Our staff in Richfield Community Education and Early Learning Services love working with all our families and look forward to answering any questions you may have as you help your child grow as a learner.

Early Learning Blog

Supporting Independent Skills in Preschoolers

Independence is a skill we learn and practice in preschool and at home. It's a skill where your child is being active in their learning rather than passive. They get to learn how to work out the answers for themselves, rather than being told

woman and child walking through the forest

Learning can happen in any environment with your child, including learning outdoors in the woods, a park or on a walk. Introducing your child to outdoor experiences has shown to provide positive health and educational benefits for young children as well!

books and apple sitting on table

In the course of many parent’s lives they may find themselves reading the same book over and over again and wondering why.  Some parents may even worry that they aren’t exposing their child to enough books because they are stuck reading The Hungry Caterpillar ten times every night.

Family Literacy

When children develop literacy skills (reading, writing, speaking and listening), they learn critical thinking skills and start to explore new perspectives and ideas. As your child's first teacher, you provide them with important literacy skills when you talk about your day, cook together, tell family stories and sing.

As the District's family literacy specialist, it is my job to partner with teachers and families to support children in developing literacy skills. We also have a literacy coach at each of our elementary schools who helps to support literacy instruction. The partnership between schools and families is integral to the success of students. As parents and caregivers, you support your child's education by helping them to draw connections between what they learn at school and the activities they enjoy at home.

I look forward to partnering with you to connect literacy learning at home with learning at school. Look for more information throughout the school year about activities and games to add to your family time together.

Happy Reading! 

Alison Pichel
K-5 Family Literacy Specialist

Family Literacy Blog

When Should I Be Concerned?

As parents and caregivers, we are often told that each child progresses and develops in their own time. Even so, as parent and caregivers we question: “When do I stop waiting for the next developmental change or skill?” “When do I start to worry?” “Who can I talk to about this?” As your child’s primary caregiver, you are best able to share with doctors and developmental experts about what you notice in your child.

Growing Scientists from the Ground Up

Want to make sure your child enjoys a variety of things? Try utilizing a nature walk notebook. Sharing your personal observations helps to make the writing and drawing more fun and meaningful. Writing and drawing about any experience you have helps to build vocabulary and curiosity about new topics. 

Growing Readers From Birth

Parents often ask what they can do to help their children become strong readers. The answer is simple yet long: there are a lot of daily opportunities for caregivers and parents to grow foundational skills that will help children develop strong reading skills.

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