Helping children in their growth and development

  • April 3, 2017
  • /   Reggie Dogan
  • /   early-learning

Head Start teacher, Sandra Bolling, top center, reads to a group of children at Lincoln Park Primary School.
Bolling has been at teacher with Head Start for 24 years. (Photo: Tony Giberson/

Parenting is difficult even in the best of circumstances, and when coupled with other stressful life situations, it becomes even more challenging.

During these times, support and assistance from others are critical. That’s why the Studer Community Institute is working to offer parents support to help develop the tools and skills to improve their children’s lives and get them ready for school and life.

As the part of my role as parent outreach coordinator, I visit and meet with various people, organizations and agencies to find the best model to reach parents and caregivers.

One of the most rewarding things has been finding so many people and places that dedicated to improving the quality of life in this community through programs to help young children reach developmental milestones and be ready for school and life.

Throughout Escambia County are agencies and organizations that offer services to assist young mothers and their children in their growth and development.

Reaching and teaching children in their earliest years can help ensure that they get the healthy and strong start they need to begin school ready to learn and grow.

More and more evidence is showing that investment in early education provides significant benefits to children, families and society as a whole, increasing economic growth and promoting greater opportunity over time.

Nearly 85 percent of the brain is fully developed by age 3, and we believe parents, as a child’s first teacher, have the power to impact and improve brain development in their children.

Through programs that assists parents in high-poverty areas in developing the tools and skills to help stimulate their babies’ brains, we believe we can help more children in Pensacola reach developmental milestones and be ready for kindergarten.

The more words a baby hears during this time, the better prepared for school and for life she will be. That’s good for the parent, the baby and the community at large.

Of nearly 3,000 kindergartners in Escambia County schools, more than a third are not prepared academically or socially for kindergarten.

We know that a child who gets a good start in life has a better chance of doing well throughout his life.

Many of them will avoid the pitfalls of getting pregnant, dropping out of school and ending up a burden on society before they can start a fulfilling, productive life.

By reaching and teaching children early in their young lives through parent engagement, we can give them the help and hope they need as we strive to build a brain, build a life and build a community.

SCI every day, in many ways, is getting closer to putting in place a plan that provides services to help build a brain, build a life, build a community — one parent, one child, one program at a time.

If you want to help or know someone who has ideas, suggestions or just want to talk about SCI’s labor of love in early learning, email rdogan@sslof.local, or call (850) 529-6485.

Find out more about the agencies and organizations that work to help parents and children here.