Jumpstart gives students a chance to help children

By Lauren Grimaldi

One of the keys to success in life is a good education. An important factor to this is starting early, but for students living in poverty this isn’t always a possibility. Jumpstart, a program that works with preschoolers living in underprivileged areas, is a popular program to work for among college students.

Jumpstart’s mission statement posted on its website gives a little more insight into the core values of the organization.

“From our inspiring Corps members to our dedicated staff and our impressive leadership team, we believe in honoring our core values by working in service of children. We recognize we’re stronger and more effective in preparing America’s children when we do it together, so we hold each other mutually accountable for living out these core values at the individual and organizational levels,” according to the mission statement on the organization’s website.

Jacqueline Faire, an elementary education professor, offered more insight into how programs like Jumpstart can help children.

“An early childhood program helps children by introducing them to developmentally appropriate materials that may not be available to them at home,” Faire said.

At a young age, it is very important that children have “hands-on” experiences to begin scaffolding their learning, Faire says.

“Books play such an important part of early childhood programs and the earlier children are exposed to books, the better,” Faire said. “The love of book often leads to the love of reading.”

Faire also said that such programs can help a child mentally as well.

“While early childhood programs work on increasing cognitive development, just [as important] is the social and emotional development of a young children, which are also goals of an early childhood program,” Faire said.

Freshman biology major Melissa Barragan is an employee for the organization and talked specifically about what her job with Jumpstart entails.

“As a Jumpstart Corps member, I was trained to help preschool children in low-income neighborhoods develop the language and literacy skills they need to be ready for kindergarten,” Barragan said. “Each week, we prepare for planned sessions that include a new book, poems/songs and learning activities.”

In addition to sessions twice a week, Jumpstart Corps members offer classroom assistance six hours a week, according to Barragan.

There are many impoverished neighborhoods in Chicago, which is why Jumpstart is an opportunity for students to help out those less fortunate and get experience in early childhood education.

“Jumpstart is a great opportunity for anyone looking to go into early education because they get to experience hands on teaching with children and important interactions,” Barragan said. “In addition, other students should join Jumpstart because it is a great learning experience, and you are giving back to your community.”

There is benefit to joining Jumpstart even if you aren’t an education major, according to Barragan.

“Personally, I was looking for a work-study job, and Jumpstart worked out perfectly with my schedule,” Barragan said. “I have always enjoyed interacting with children, so I knew I would have fun with this job.”

Students with an interest in joining Jumpstart are asked to visit www.jstart.org.

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