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Passports for Preschoolers: Museums Collaborate with Head Start

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Remember that teacher in high school who would monotonously read their lecture to the class; never looking up, barely blinking, and only stopping to clear their throat? This particular teacher made a 45 minute class feel like an eternity.

Thankfully, there was also that teacher would make you look forward to their class. This teacher turned memorizing facts for a test into a game of Jeopardy and made learning the subject not only interesting but fun! Turning education into a lively and engaging activity makes a teacher's lesson effective as well as sparks the child's interest. 

The Chapman Museum, The Hyde Collection, and go! The World Awareness Children's Museum have done this and more; these local museums have collaborated with Head Start to create the "Preschool Passport Museum Program."
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The Prechool Passport Program invites families and children to the museums for free events and activities. Each time a child attends an event their "passport" will be stamped! Kids will have something to look forward to at each event, collecting stamps from different activities at each museum and adding to their passports. The program was designed by Chapman educator Kim Harvish, Hyde educator Evi Fisher, and go! educator Sheileen Landry in order to encourage parents and their children to see all the programs that these museums have to offer!  
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We got ahold of Hyde educator, Evi Fisher, and asked her some questions about what this program is all about and where the idea came from. Evi says that, "The main goal of the collaboration is to introduce the 3 museums in our area to the students and families of the Head Start community.  We all found that Head Start was a population that we were under-serving." Fisher says the idea sprung from a museum conference she attended; the meeting focused on a nonprofit in NYC that introduced under-served demographics to cultural institutions. 

Head Start is the under-served population that the museums believed they should target in our community. Reaching out to a demographic that has not been tapped into will help spread awareness of these cultural institutions to parents as well as introduce their children to a world of fun they have never experienced. Warren County Head Start is a federally funded program for pregnant women, children from birth through 5 years old and their families. Eligibility is based upon income guidelines. 

There is no cost to attend Early Head Start (pregnant women and children from birth to 3 years old) or Head Start (children ages 3 to 5 years old). All families who are enrolled in Head Start programs receive services in the areas of education, health, nutrition, disabilities, and family services. In Warren County over 280 children and families benefit from the comprehensive services offered in 7 centers and a home based option.

The Hyde, the Chapman, and go! World Awareness Children's Museum will pay for the cost for families and children of Head Start to visit the museums. Fisher tells us that the Hyde received a Stewart's Holiday match grant to help off set expenses of the programs. This amazing opportunity is one that Evi hopes will reach many children in the community. It is the first collaboration of its kind and hopefully will raise awareness of the cultural hubs we have in our area. Fisher believes that this initiative will continue to grow overtime, gaining popularity throughout the community and sparking an interest in education among young children.

All children should have the opportunity to begin learning at an early age but not all home situations allow for this to happen. Educational programs and extra curricular activities cost money and call for extra time and more often than not this is hard to squeeze into a toddler's schedule. Thankfully, programs like Head Start exist and institutions like the World Awareness Children's Museum are here to support them. Both of these local establishments take a genuine interest in the community and dedicate themselves to educating our children; two powerful forces will now unite in making learning fun while reminding us all why knowledge is power.

Want to check out the program's events? Click here to see our events calendar! Visit GlensFallsRegion.com to learn more about what's happening in our community!

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