(CMR) Local non-profit Literacy is For Everyone (LIFE) has partnered with the Cayman Islands Early Childhood Association (CIECA) to bring Thrive By Five, a groundbreaking new Early Years literacy program, to select preschools in Cayman.
The program, sponsored by Deloitte Cayman Islands, is due to be launched at Precious Gems Preschool on Walkers Road in September 2021. A full four-phased rollout will cover a total of eight preschools over an estimated two-year period.
Designed to foster a love of language, Thrive by Five extends the scope of LIFE programs to target children from birth to age five.
“As a signature Deloitte WorldClass program, which aims to empower individuals in our community through education and skills development, Thrive By Five will provide a unique platform for children to develop a vital skillset, to succeed in both their learning and throughout all stages of their lives,” said Clarisa Pelozzi, Head of Deloitte Corporate Responsibility and WorldClass programs.
Commenting on the continued partnership with LIFE, Audit & Assurance Partner and Corporate Responsibility Leader, Odette Samson, added, “We are grateful for this opportunity to continue to champion the education, inclusion and healthy development of children in Cayman, starting with the key foundational stages of their cognitive and social development.”
Decades of research show that early investment in literacy can profoundly impact brain development and learning, with its benefits far exceeding academics.
Juliet Austin, LIFE’s Executive Director, explained that early investment in literacy also “raises educational achievement and future job prospects, improve health and wellness, eliminate poverty, impact crime and incarceration rates, and ensure long-term socio-economic stability for all.”
Thrive By Five comprises several elements, including LIFE’s signature curated classroom libraries. Participating preschools receive high-interest classroom libraries to support the Early Years Curriculum, with culturally appropriate titles selected by dedicated LIFE volunteer, Kirsten Penner, to promote diversity and inclusion while cultivating a lifelong love of language and books.
Currently, government regulations mandate preschools to have one licensed teacher per ten untrained staff. To address this, each staff member engaged in the Thrive By Five program receives professional learning opportunities courtesy of LIFE’s new 10- point Teacher Education Video series.
Expertly written and devised by CIECA President Nicola Williams, and delivered by a host of local educational specialists, including government Literacy Specialist – Yosha Alphonse, Acting Director of the Early Childhood Care and Education Unit – Dr. Pearlyn Burrell, LIFE Board Member and Early Childhood advocate – Reina Jefferson, and Village Montessori owner, Jeifrene Small, the series offers developmentally appropriate literacy strategies to foster a rich culture of language and print in preschool environments.
To support parents and caregivers, three family engagement workshops aim to bridge the gap between home and school, empowering parents and families to provide stimulating opportunities for rich social interactions and authentic, meaningful, and fun experiences in print. “
Precious Gems’ Headteacher, Victoria Nelson, said, “We are truly honored to have been chosen by LIFE as the pilot school for the Thrive By Five program. LIFE has summoned extra life into our literacy program. This initiative will enhance our teaching and learning experience with special emphasis on developing literacy skills as we collaborate with parents and other stakeholders.
“We salute the Directors and organizers of this great organization and encourage members of our community to partner with them, to enrich the lives of all children in these Cayman Islands. I would like to express sincere thanks to our sponsors, Deloitte, who have funded this project, demonstrating their interest to assist in the efforts of increasing literacy levels across the Cayman Islands.”
While recent Inspection Reports show strengths and progress at some of Cayman’s preschools, many continue to receive weak-satisfactory ratings, particularly related to Literacy and Communication.
“The importance of investing now in Cayman’s youngest population cannot be overstated,“ notes Austin. “We firmly believe that ‘It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken adults.’ LIFE is excited to be pioneering this groundbreaking, evidence-based program to empower children – during the single most important period of development the brain ever undergoes – to explore sounds, letters, and print in inventive, developmentally-appropriate ways.”