Sarah Funk, ECFE coordinator
Ahead of its time, the 1974 Minnesota Legislature funded the piloting of six Early Childhood Family Education – ECFE – programs. Today, ECFE is available statewide and serves thousands of parents and their young children from birth to age five each year. This Oct. 20-25, ECFE celebrates 40 years of educating Minnesota’s families.
ECFE understands the importance of the early years as learning years. Right from the birth of a child, parents shape the child’s development, strengthen the parent-child relationship and set the stage for future learning and growth as a family. ECFE supports families by offering a variety of classes to provide education, encouragement and support for both parents and young children.
ECFE offers all parents and their infants, toddlers and preschoolers a chance to go to school, to play and learn together. The classes are taught by licensed teachers and have three components: parent-child activity time to enhance the child’s language, pre-reading and math skills; parent-education time to share ideas and support, and to discuss topics like babies and sleep, keeping up with a toddler, child development, temperament traits, discipline techniques, family fun ideas and more; and, child only playtime when children continue to play and learn as parents attend parent-education time.
The original intent of creating ECFE was grounded in research that linked the quality of the child’s development from birth to kindergarten age with later school success. Research shows this method has proven to be a success many times over. In the past four decades, ECFE has supported parents as their child’s first teachers by offering parent-child classes.
Classes offered through the Sartell-St Stephen School District are geared to a variety of ages and held in the District Service Center. Registration for the infant class (birth-12 months) is open now and starts on Monday, Nov. 10. Call Sarah at 320-656-3763 or check the website, sartell.k12.mn.us, and look for “Early Childhood” under “Schools” and then click on ECFE information.
(Sarah Funk is the coordinator of the ECFE program for the Sartell-St. Stephen School District.)