By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – The Week of the Young Child is an annual celebration sponsored by the National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). This year, Next Generation Children's Centers planned a weeklong celebration April 7 to 11 to help bring extra attention to what they do.
“The purpose of the week is to bring public attention to the needs of the children and celebrate in a creative way to showcase that. We have 10 locations across Middlesex County. Each of us participated in exciting things throughout the week,” said Jen Smith, director of Next Generation Children's Center in Marlborough.
The week began with an Earth Day program in which the children planted seeds, learned about a butterfly garden, and used play dough to depict the earth. Tuesday's theme was “Self Expression” and featured art, body tracings and more. Wednesday's theme was a pirate and princess day in which the children were encouraged to dress like a princess or a pirate for school. There was a treasure hunt and craft to design their own crown.
Thursday's theme was “Music and Movement.” All ages participated in musical instrument exploration. Each child engaged in some form of music – some were drumming, some were tapping around the classroom with a cap adhered to the bottom of their shoes, and others were outside making different sounds with recycled instruments at the music wall.
Friday's culmination to the week started with a family breakfast at drop-off. The theme for the last day of the program was “Family and Friends.” There were more festivities planned throughout the day, including make-your-own pizzas for lunch.
Staff members selected a day of that week to focus on with a fun activity for the children.
“For our music and movement piece, Ann Lenault, our office administrator, came up with a vision of a music wall. We had our maintenance team, parent volunteers and staff volunteers working on bringing in recycled PVC pipes and help put them together to hang on the fence behind the play area,” Smith said.
The week-long celebration was a great way to showcase what the center has to offer as an early childhood education program.
“We hope we help families to recognize the importance of early childhood education that doesn's just start in kindergarten but way before with experiences like this,” she said.