Enfield KITE holds Early Education Fair

By Tom Phelan - Staff Writer
Enfield - posted Thu., Mar. 24, 2011
Chase, 2, plays at the Enfield KITE Early Education Fair. Photos by Tom Phelan.
Chase, 2, plays at the Enfield KITE Early Education Fair. Photos by Tom Phelan.

Enfield KITE – the collaborative program that promotes early childhood education in town – held an enhanced version of its annual Early Education Fair on March 19. The event’s exhibit space included 28 preschools, day care centers, home day care providers and community organizations that care for or educate very young children in Enfield.
This year’s fair was different. In the past, the KITE event has been a preschool-only fair. But because the Enfield public school system completely reorganized the elementary education level, and at the same time imposed more stringent new policies preventing children from going to a school other than the one in their home district, the fair included before- and after-school childcare providers, as well. Also included were several providers who offered childcare in their own homes. The intent was to give families an opportunity to explore different options for day care and preschool learning.
Traffic through the Early Education Fair was lighter than in previous years. The venue had been moved to Henry Barnard School, central to Enfield as a whole, but away from the commercial center of town. In recent years the fair has been staged at Asnuntuck Community College.
Not only was the Early Education Fair not held at ACC, but it was competing with the North Central Connecticut Chamber of Commerce Home and Product Show, which, for several years has been staged at ACC. The 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. time block was prime time for people to visit that show, but there was no certainty that it drew attendance away from the KITE fair. It was just as likely that the balmy early spring weather may have kept families outdoors for the day.
Anyone who skipped the chance to take advantage of the Early Education Fair not only missed the opportunity to connect with preschools and day care providers, but also missed the chance to collect some useful information. KITE provided a list of day care providers in each of the K-2 districts and the associated 3-5 districts. The Enfield Family Resource Center provided another list that combined preschools as well as home day care providers and day care centers, also with associated elementary school district information. Several pieces of other documentation available at the KITE booth were intended to help parents to research and qualify day care providers and preschools.
Amy Witbro, partnership coordinator for Enfield schools and a KITE participant, said after the four-hour event that feedback from both providers and parents was very positive. She said many of those who took the time to exhibit or visit the fair in search of information felt they made some good connections.
“I think the fair went extremely well,” she said. “It provided a forum for people to get questions answered and seek information.”
KITE has scheduled a program to help parents of young children prepare for their transition to kindergarten. That event will be held at Hazardville Memorial School on March 31, from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
During the week of April 11-15, KITE and Asnuntuck Community College will conduct their annual celebration of the Week of the Young Child at Enfield Square Mall. Kindergarten registration is also available there on Monday, April 11, from noon to 7 p.m.

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