Local Program Making A Difference With Children

Whether they’re rich or poor, one of the biggest concerns for most parents is their child’s education. The United Way’s Bright Beginnings program aims to put the children of lower income families on the path to success at an early age.

Doctor Joshua Sparrow of Harvard Med School was recently in Houston to celebrate the ten year anniversary of the program. He’s studied some of the methods and likes what he sees.

"The importance of really listening and looking carefully at young children for the meaningful and purposeful behaviors that they engage in that tell us who they are and how they’re growing."

Parental involvement is a big part of Bright Beginnings, but if you ask almost any educator they’ll also tell you parental involvement is important. Unfortunately that involvement isn’t always a part of schools in lower income neighborhoods.

Dr. Sparrow says Bright Beginnings finds a way to make it work.

"What it does is it helps teachers and other staff in those centers learn to respect the expertise and the strengths of that parents from any socioeconomic status bring and to leverage the strength that parents bring for their children’s education."

Ten year old Alan Portales of Houston is a graduate of the program. Now in fourth grade, he says he does his homework and is making good grades.

"I only got one C, and the rest are A’s and B’s."

Some believe the Bright Beginnings model should be implemented throughout the country. Dr. Sparrow says one trip to a local school and you’ll see why.

"You really see parents deeply involved in their children’s learning. You see children involved in their own learning and you see at an early age children developing the kinds of skills that are so critical for success later in school."

For more information on Bright Beginnings, visit the United Way of Greater Houston’s website.

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