The Rend Lake College Foundation Children’s Center will join hundreds of local organizations around the country to celebrate Week of the Young Child, April 18 through 24.

Week of the Young Child honors the more than 35 million children from birth through age eight in America, as well as the families, teachers and other adults who help children make the most of the opportunities of their early years.

Research and experience clearly show that children’s earliest years are crucial learning years. Week of the Young Child is a chance to celebrate the learning opportunities of young children and to recognize the responsibilities we share for helping them make the most of their early years.

The tentative schedule of RLC’s Week of the Young Child celebration starts at 9:30 a.m. Monday, April 19, with a proclamation from Rend Lake College President Mark Kern at the RLCF Children’s Center, followed by a balloon release to officially kick off the week’s activities.

Monday’s emphasis will be on farm life, with the children coming dressed for the occasion in overalls and straw hats. The morning will start with an old-style country breakfast of bacon and eggs, followed by a special visit from some barnyard friends, including a calf, pigs and a goat.

Tuesday, April 20, will be Literacy Day. At 10:15 a.m., the children will join RLC Librarian Beth Mandrell and Clifford the Big Red Dog on the lawn for a special reading time.

Parent Appreciation Day will be Wednesday, April 21. Parents will be greeted with a breakfast they can grab on the way out the door and will receive a badge proclaiming their child’s name.

Details for Staff Appreciation Day, to be held Thursday, April 22, are still being developed. Friday, April 23, will be Advocacy Day.

These local celebrations of Week of the Young Child are designated to build broader support for early childhood programs that nurture young children’s early learning and growth. The Rend Lake College Foundation Children’s Center advocates a comprehensive effort to improve the quality of early childhood education, including:

**Providing professional development opportunities and adequate compensation forteachers and staff;

**Improving the health and safety of programs;

**Using developmentally appropriate practices to encourage literacy & learning from birth;

**Supporting the family’s crucial role in early education.

Rend Lake College has more than 12 early childhood professionals working together to improve professional practices and working conditions in early childhood education and to build public support for high-quality early childhood education programs. The RLC Foundation Children’s Center is an affiliate of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the largest organization of early childhood educators and others dedicated to improving the quality of early education programs for children from birth through age eight.

For more information on RLC’s Week of the Young Child celebration, contact Caroline Smith, RLC Foundation Children’s Center Operations Assistant, at (618) 437-5321, Ext. 1393, or call toll-free (in-district only) at 1-800-369-5321.

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