STEM & Literacy Pathways Early Learning Program Creator Applauds President Obama's Call for Schools to Take Action

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Educator Chuck Cadle calls for national movement in homes and schools to prepare new generations with early learning advantage.

Destination Imagination helps students do better in school

We must answer the president's call and launch a nationwide early learning movement in homes and classrooms that will give our kids a lifelong advantage.

The educational program STEM & Literacy Pathways for Early Learners (Pathways) meets the criteria set out by President Obama last week in his visit to the Decatur, GA school system, where he urged educators across America to embrace early learning programs that can give pre-K youth a lifelong advantage.

"Study after study shows that the sooner a child begins learning, the better he or she does down the road," the president said in Decatur, echoing his comments in his State of the Union address. "But today, fewer than 3 in 10 four year-olds are enrolled in a high-quality preschool program. Most middle-class parents can’t afford a few hundred bucks a week for private preschool. And for poor kids who need help the most, this lack of access to preschool education can shadow them for the rest of their lives."

"The president has issued a call and a challenge to us all to make early learning a priority, and now it's our turn to act," said Chuck Cadle, M.Ed., a lifelong educator and CEO of Destination Imagination Inc., where STEM & Literacy Pathways for Early Learners was created.

"It is now our responsibility as educators to change the life trajectory of new generations by giving them an educational advantage well before they enter their first classroom. We must answer the president's call and launch a nationwide early learning movement in homes and classrooms that will give our kids a lifelong advantage."

Cadle said the STEM & Literacy Pathways program can be used in homes that might not be able to afford pre-school as a preparatory approach that will give their children knowledge and abilities now that they will later acquire in school.

The president in his State of the Union address proposed that the federal government work with states to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America. "Every dollar we invest in high-quality early education can save more than seven dollars later on – by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime," the president said. "In states that make it a priority to educate our youngest children, like Georgia or Oklahoma, studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, and form more stable families of their own. So let’s do what works, and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind. Let’s give our kids that chance."

Today, STEM & Literacy Pathways programs are already being applied in schools in Washington, D.C., Bibb County, GA, Chicago, IL through a grant from the Motorola Solutions Foundation, and in San Francisco and Los Angeles, CA through a grant from CVS Caremark Corporation. STEM & Literacy Pathways has been successfully tested and earned high marks for helping youth in Head Start programs in Washington, D.C., begin to develop their STEM and literacy proficiencies.

Pathways has numerous benefits, including:

  • It is a fun and engaging program that prepares early learners for elementary grades
  • It teaches STEM concepts, social and emotional skills, creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking
  • It has a parent engagement activity that allows children to positively interact with parental support
  • Each set comes with a teacher training guide

Pathways is designed to prepare 3-6-year-olds with a jump start in literacy as well as Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) concepts, while engaging a child’s imagination to foster critical and creative thinking skills and social and emotional skills. These skills are developed using 16 early learning themes, which consist of 90 days of activities that provide for significant parent engagement.

The Destination Imagination early learning program provides teachers with a framework enabling them to relate more effectively with students while preparing them for elementary grades. The Pathways set includes Social and Emotional Learning, STEM and Literacy concepts, and plenty of fun and engaging activities for school and at home, along with a teacher training guide. Pathways is beneficial to both parents and teachers as well as students.

As with all DI programs, Pathways teaches the creative process from imagination to innovation through a process called “inquiry-guided” group learning, helping even the youngest students deal with new material or equipment.

  • Parent involvement is encouraged not only with the take-home activities, but a variety of other initiatives as well.
  • Pathways is designed to assist teachers and parents in teaching STEM and literacy concepts to very young learners. For classrooms where the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) is used (for example, Head Start centers), Pathways will aide teachers in the “Instructional Support” domain.
  • We hope teachers will delight in such a wonderful and simple program to help them promote STEM and literacy in their preschool classrooms and home schools.

What's Included:
Organized into 16 themes, Pathways offers five activities for each theme. Each activity requires about 15-30 minutes. Pathways also includes:

  • A take-home component for every theme
  • An adult and child activity for each theme
  • 10 feedback loop questions for each theme
  • 10 transitions for each theme
  • A suggested book to read for each theme
  • 5 books from the suggested reading list
  • 12 extra fun and engaging challenges that can be used to complement the learning experience

“The STEM & Literacy educational approach allowed for my students and teachers to think outside the box. I highly recommend that anyone in the field of early childhood education should implement this program throughout the school year." - Giselle Cohen, MA Ed. H.D., CentroNia, EHS Director, Baltimore Head Start

“These materials give children a “sense of wonder” and have been fully supported by the STEM & Literacy educational approach for our Head Start children.” - Barb Bartels, Baltimore City Head Start

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Michelle Griffith, APR
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