Stepping Stones to Operate Early Learning Center
Fairfield University and Stepping Stones Museum for Children have announced their partnership to bring a revamped early childhood learning center to the University’s campus.
Opening in Summer 2016, the Early Language and Literacy Initiative (ELLI) at Fairfield University will serve infants, toddlers and pre-kindergarten students aged 3 months – 5 years. The full-day, year-round program will be open to Fairfield University employees’ children as well as the general public.
The partnership is a result of a long-standing relationship between Fairfield University, Stepping Stones, and Literacy How, Inc., an organization dedicated to best practice applications of early literacy research. Launched in 2011 to help improve school readiness and reduce the achievement gap among young children, the Early Language and Literacy Initiative (ELLI) is a high quality, year-round multidisciplinary approach to early childhood education based on theory, research and community wisdom about what all children need to learn and grow successfully.
The ELLI approach offers children engaging, play-based experiences in a language-, literacy- and content-rich environment that focuses on building the skills, knowledge and attitudes that are developmental precursors to reading and writing. Through the use of research-based best practices, ELLI at Fairfield University creates a compelling environment where students gain in-depth and sustained learning through a daily flow of activities designed to build language and verbal reasoning skills, and conceptual knowledge. Classroom themes and topics incorporate community, global awareness, health and the environment. The school’s teachers, environments and practices support children to be curious, capable, resourceful, competent and imaginative. ELLI at Fairfield University will serve as a training and professional development site for teachers, parents and caregivers, with opportunities for conducting educational research-to-practice studies.
“We are delighted to have formed this partnerships with Stepping Stones for our Early Learning Center,” said University President Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J. “We are committed to innovation and excellence in education at all levels, and so it is appropriate that our Early Learning Center be animated by the very best practices in the formation and education of our young children.”
Stepping Stones and Literacy How, co-founders of ELLI, have an established track record of effectively and successfully working together to ensure that all children are prepared for kindergarten and become proficient readers by third grade. The ELLI Lab School at Stepping Stones opened in December 2012 and provides year-round, daily programs that introduce opportunities for ELLI students to build essential life skills — including language and literacy, critical thinking, creativity and innovation, and communication and collaboration — while playfully learning science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) content. In a short time, studies consistently show that ELLI graduates are well prepared to enter kindergarten at or above their peers. Current ELLI programs include the ELLI Lab School, the ELLI model pre-kindergarten classroom in Norwalk Public Schools, ELLI Afterschool Adventures, Camp ELLI, and the ELLI TeachNET, a professional development program for ELLI and non-ELLI early childhood professionals.
“Stepping Stones is very excited about the opening of ELLI at Fairfield University and the impact it will have for the children and families we serve,” said Rhonda Kiest, President and Chief Executive Officer of Stepping Stones Museum for Children. “We are committed to ensuring that children participating in ELLI programs have access to high quality educational experiences that can ignite a passion for learning throughout their lifetime.”
Learn more about ELLI at www.steppingstonesmuseum.org/ELLI