FARMINGTON — The early childhood program at San Juan College is hosting a week of events to shine a light on young children's learning development.
The Week of the Young Child starts today and continues through Friday. This year's theme is "Early Years Are Learning Years."
The San Juan College Child and Family Development Center and the National Association for the Education of Young Children organized the week's events.
The week brings attention to a critical part of a child's life and the importance of that life stage, said Mary Schumacher-Hoerner, director of the college's Child and Family Development Center and an associate professor of early childhood education.
"We also hope this week will bring the entire early childhood community together — schools, pre-K programs, Head Start, child care centers — in working toward improving the conditions and quality of early childhood programs," Schumacher-Hoerner said.
Events starting today will cover topics like outdoor play, child abuse and neglect, and diverse cultures in the community.
An opening parade at 9:30 a.m. Monday kicks off the week. Children will march from the center to the Little Theatre courtyard on campus, where a presentation about Blue Ribbons for Kids will take place. The organization focuses on preventing child abuse and supporting families.
Lead toddler teacher Francell Nakai said most of the week's activities will be for children enrolled at the college's center and their families. Among those events are an obstacle course, a day focused on safety and a visit from campus club All Nations United Club, which is scheduled to host a drum group with dancers.
On Friday, the center will host a St. Jude's Trike-A-Thon to promote riding safety for children.
At a public family fair from 10 to 11 a.m. Friday, parents and families can learn about programs and resources in San Juan County. Twenty booths with representatives from organizations like the Farmington Public Library, the Sycamore Park Community Center and the Families First program of the New Mexico Department of Health will share information about services in the area that support children.
This is also the second year of the children's art auction, which benefits the college's Parents as Teachers club. Families can bid on framed artwork made by children all week until 3 p.m. Friday.
Nakai said early learning is important to a children's development because it builds a foundation for their education later in life. Without early education, she said, children may not learn certain problem-solving skills.
"They would not learn to express feelings and need," she said. "They basically wouldn't learn to interact appropriately with other people as they grow up."