Abstract The Baby Scholars program is a program which targets at-risk children in the Grand Rapids area by providing effective educational opportunities from infancy until the age of five. The children considered at risk generally live within four zones in the greater Grand Rapids area. These areas are generally affected by poverty and other socioeconomic and environmental factors. The children and families that qualify for enrollment in the program endure living situations that have been widely studied and found to have a detrimental impact on the formal education patterns, and ultimately, quality of life as an adult. Not only does the program promote overall awareness throughout the community, it must deal with the many societal factors that lead to a vicious cycle of poverty for its enrollees. Many facets of the Baby Scholars program have been created to combat the limited resources that hinder a child’s healthy educational upbringing. Consequently, this paper will examine the obstacles that affect this program as well as the benefits of this program. The Baby Scholars program aims to prepare a child’s cognitive ability in order to close the educational gap in the classroom. Additionally, it offers educational services to the parents, so that they can become more involved in their child’s education at home.
Introduction Over the last century, Americans have made significant efforts as well as created many resources to ensure a high level of academic achievement for their children. Following the Russian deployment of the Sputnik satellite, an emphasis on science and mathematics infiltrated American classrooms. This surge includes, but, is not limited to programs including New Math, which aimed to teach a different way of organizing mathematical information. Its aim was also for children to understand the mathematical process. Moreover, an emphasis on literacy also found its way into the everyday teachings of high school classrooms in the United States. The writing of compositions and essays became a part of standardized testing in United States classrooms.
Although reformations to the educational systems were, and in some cases still are, necessary to ensure Americans receive an education that allows them to compete in a global environment; many of the programs have fallen short of their desired outcomes and goals. Many of these shortcomings can be credited to the fact that, by the time the information was presented to the student, it required the student to accommodate the information with methods and philosophies the student had already learned. In that respect, the Baby Scholars program is a different approach to the long-standing issue of relative preparedness that United States classrooms have faced.
The Baby Scholars program shifts the focus of educational development to younger children; from adolescents to infants. It provides a formal educational plan for infants and toddlers. In essence, it teaches them the universal fundamental qualities of communication, problem solving, and association. An example of the items covered in the educations plan includes a curriculum for children to lean colors and shapes, pre-reading activities for children. For younger children, the curriculum includes lesson plans to help infants recognize sounds and letters, acquisition of language and following of directions, to name a few. Research has shown that, children, especially those from inner-city or socio-economically handcuffed families, are able to develop their ability to think and reason through activities that focus on deliberate skill acquisition if these skills are taught at an early-age.
Although the Baby Scholars Program has been marked with success by those who have participated in it, it is not without its barriers. The Baby Scholars program must effectively promote the program to families living in the inner-city.