KATONAH, N.Y. – Balloons, banners, bold magic tricks and beds of soil have filled a week-long celebration at an early education center in Katonah of the young children that its serves.
The Week of the Young Child started in 1971 and is sponsored by the National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The idea is to aim attention on the needs of young children and recognize the programs that meet those needs, like Country Children’s Center, a non-profit day care center accredited by the NAEYC and licensed by the state Department of Social Services.
“From my first year as director, we’ve made a big deal of it,” said Polly Peace, executive director of Country Children’s Center for the last 27 years. “We really try to bring everybody’s focus into the fun of it; the fun of being with children and also we try to put learning into everything that we do.”
A child’s brain develops around 80-percent of its capacity during early childhood.
“What happens in this early childhood period is extremely important to the rest of their life,” Peace said. “So the high quality experiences that we can provide are very important. And that’s what we take very seriously. But, within that seriousness we have a lot of play and a lot of fun.”
Peace explained that they take an experiential approach to learning in those early years by giving children opportunities to interact with their environment. This includes “lots of nature, lots of science, lots of cooperative play, learning from each other, empathy; things that they’ll need for the rest of their life.”
This week, children walked in an on-site parade and had a garden party for which parents brought in tools their children will use when they begin to work in the garden. They were read to by the town supervisors of Bedford, Chris Burdick, and Lewisboro, Peter Parsons, and took part in a magic show.
Several children said they most enjoyed a trick in which the magician tied three ropes together and, somehow, made the knots disappear.
“How did he do that,” one child asked.
The Country Children’s Center also provides before- and after-school services in the Katonah-Lewisboro and Bedford Central school districts.
It will be among those honored at the Arc of Westchester’s Employer Recognition Breakfast for employing people with developmental disabilities. The celebration will be from 8:30 to 10 a.m. at the Westchester Marriot on 670 White Plains Road, Tarrytown.