Music. Art. Health. Collaboration. Teamwork. Friends. Family. Community. 

At UICS, we believe all of these subjects should be widely recognized and celebrated. This is why we are overjoyed to participate in Week of the Young Child (WOYC)!

Launching on Saturday, April 10th,this annual week-long celebration, hosted by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), spotlights the incredible value of early learning programs, little learners, and their teachers, families, and communities. This week directs public focus on the importance of early childhood education and how imperative it is in the lives and futures of our youngest students. With 2021 being NAEYC’s 50th anniversary year and this past year presenting great challenges, especially for educators, we could all use something stellar to celebrate. UICS is eager to launch the festivities! 

“This week is to express the importance of early childhood and to honor early learning educators. We’ve had a history participating in WOYC since I’ve been with UICS, which is almost six years,” explained Raina Davis, UICS-St. Mark Center Director of Early Learning and Inclusion. 

“We have never celebrated WOYC this big before. In the past, we have done smaller activities in the classrooms, but we’ve never hosted a kick-off event like we are doing this year.”

Each day of WOYC presents a different theme to engage students and their families and ignite imagination from early educators. Together, we will enjoy music, storytelling, guest artist performances, culinary delights, collaborative play, visual arts experiences, and family activities, and MORE!

“We truly lay the foundation for future learning for our students, so I think ‘why wouldn’t we take an opportunity to celebrate our work?!’,” said Raina.

Our UICS education staff will lead our young learners in fun interactive activities that correspond with the daily themes. Here’s a snapshot of what we have planned: 

  • Kick-Off Saturday – April 10: You’re invited! Celebrate with us virtually for LIVE MUSIC and STORYTELLING featuring the talents of local musicians and performers, Jaisson Taylor and Ry Kinkaid. FREE raffle entry for participating families! Join via Zoom here (Meeting ID: 868 2648 5565) Saturday, April 10 from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM. 
  • Music Monday – April 12: Students will experience live musical performances from local musicians, including the Kansas City Civic Orchestra, on-site or virtually. 
  • Tasty Tuesday – April 13: The culinary team and teaching staff will involve students in dynamic (and delicious!) culinary experiences.
  • Work Together Wednesday – April 14: Little learners will do what little learners do best…. PLAY! Our students will come together for collaborative play and fun activities. 
  • Artsy Thursday – April 15: UICS Arts Coordinators and teaching staff will lead every classroom though fun interactive arts experiences. 
  • Family Friday – April 16: Every UICS family will receive resources and a list of activities they can do together at home. 

“We would love families to participate in our themes and activities at home. We are working to provide families with resources and activities they can do from home,” Raina shared.

We encourage all of our families, enrolled and from the community, to join the jubilation at home by participating in our Kick-Off Saturday event via Zoom and incorporating these themes at home to complement the learning experiences for their children. 

 “I really think this week is a time where families can find ways to celebrate their young learners. Even though these early years can be tough sometimes, they fly by so quickly. As a parent of two teenage daughters myself, I know you can never get these special years back.” 

This week truly focuses on how integral family and community engagement is in supporting educators and children’s development and future success. We know more than we’ve ever known about how formative the earliest years are in a child’s life. Despite acknowledging how imperative high quality education is, the needs of our educators, children, and families have never been more demanding. 

 “We really want to celebrate our teachers and families, after what a difficult year it has been,” Raina elaborated.

“During the pandemic, teachers weren’t really celebrated like frontline workers, and we have been here the whole time providing and caring for students and their families.” 

This special week is meant to uplift our commitment to children and ensure every child is granted meaningful opportunities to flourish and thrive in their learning environments. Part of this includes expanding public awareness of our industry and contributors to the community. WOYC encourages advocacy and a commitment to how we, as a society, can better address the needs of all young children and their families. 

Early learners and educators, you are important and have so much to offer the world through your mind, talents, and dreams. 

We look forward to celebrating WOYC and observing how educators across the country will creatively embrace their communities in celebration of early education. We hope you will unite with us to help build bridges, inspire minds, and impact futures for little learners everywhere! Post your pictures online and tag us or use the hashtag #WOYC.

To support our mission and provide essential resources to our community, we ask you to join us in honoring WOYC and learning about our Ways to Help here. Your support through time, treasure, or advocacy is meaningful to our work. 

It’s the commitment of individuals like you that continue to re-affirm that the work we do at UICS is the foundation for a bright future – especially for children who don’t always have access. 

Together, we are stronger.