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Imagine the scenario described below:

This paper should be about 3 pages in length and is an individual paper.

You are part of a group of experts brought in to help a small working class community in suburban NJ. (or anywhere in the U.S.). An increasing number of young children in the community seem to be having difficulties in school from the outset. In many families, parents are working longer hours and child care arrangements are patched together. Often young children are left in the care of older brothers and sisters since more regular after school arrangements are too costly. Recently there has been an increase in the number of children beginning school with weak English skills, probably because English is not the primary language at home. Often families across the community with young children are less familiar and involved with community activities and programs that are designed for them and people would like to see that change.

Leaders of several community organizations have decided they would like to help provide support for the families with young children in town but they don?t really know what to do. These organizations include several religious groups, the local business organization, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts (made up of elementary and high school aged kids), a group from the senior center, a member of the library advisory board, and members of the town recreation and environmental commissions) and others. Everyone agrees upon these goals: 1) to help young children (preschool through grade 3) and their families, and 2) to focus on language skills, early literacy skills and possibly early math. Beyond that, nobody knows what to do or has any professional background in child development. The leaders of these community organizations intend to approach the schools but they want to have some ideas of their own before they do that. The funds are minimal but there is a great deal of enthusiasm and genuine commitment. You have been invited in to serve as consultants and to help explore possibilities. What would you suggest to this group of community leaders? In light of the broad goal of supporting all families and all children?s language and literacy development, as well as a secondary goal of strengthening community ties, what advice would you offer and/or what kinds of activities would you suggest?

Consider these points:

According to the latest research, how do children acquire language skills, early literacy and early math skills?
What are some factors that might be influencing children?s early school success (especially math and literacy) in this community?
What kinds of special actions might be helpful to families in supporting early development and especially language, literacy and mathematics development? Think about families with children of specific ages and life arrangements–
Families with preschoolers
Families of kindergartners (half day programs only)
Families with early primary children (1st & 2nd grade)
Families with an at home parent during after school hours (in all of the above situations).
Families with non-parental child care arrangements of some sort; babysitter in the home), family day care, preschool, after school, care by an older sibling in latchkey arrangement.
As you think about possible actions, be sure you are clear about a rationale for why such actions would be important for supporting early academic or pre-academic (language, early literacy, early math) development.
Consider socio-economic and socio-cultural factors. Do these play a part in your thinking about a plan? How?
Finally, do you think these are radical new ideas or do you think there is likely to be supported in the research literature?
Discuss these points in your paper. The guidelines above make some assumptions about your knowledge of New Jersey communities and schools. It might be easier for you to define characteristics of the community yourself. For example, instead of ?small, working class, suburban NJ ? you could talk about a ?changing urban community with a fairly high level of poverty.? Regardless of your community type, remember that you are presenting your ideas to leaders of several community organizations that care about their community. Some folks have more direct experience with these sorts of situations but everyone brings an important perspective to this situation. There is no single ?right? answer.