Houston non-profit Collaborative for Children launched a new mobile learning lab bringing early learning directly to Houston-area families.
Collaborative for Children hopes to stem this setback for early learners with innovative programs like its newly created, Collab-Lab.
From the welcoming exterior of the Collab-Lab to the vibrant learning spaces within, every inch of this new mobile classroom is designed to captivate little learners, bringing families and children, ages 3 to 5, a fun, thematic, interactive learning journey directly to their neighborhood. Collab-Lab is a first of its kind, rolling out to Acres Homes, Galena Park and North Houston this fall for initial recruitment. Designed to be convenient for families, and at no cost to them, Collab-Lab gives parents, and their children, access to experts, educators, resources, and innovative programs to equip them with the academic and emotional/social skills essential for school readiness and early academic achievement. Research confirms that high-quality early learning experiences give children a strong start on the path to later academic achievement and success in life.
This innovative initiative from Collaborative for Children brings project and play-based curriculum together to reflect the changing needs of early childhood education. 21st-century learning recognizes that emotional intelligence skills are inextricably intertwined with cognitive skills, suggesting that executive function and social-emotional learning skills should be taught alongside traditional academic areas such as literacy, math, and science. Collab-Lab was created with this new model in mind with the goal of helping area children develop the social and emotional skills as well as academic skills necessary for successful entry into kindergarten. Plus, Collaborative for Children understands the benefit of involving the parent or essential caregiver in the process as a vital element of support for a child’s learning. This is what the dual-generation approach to learning is all about.
“We recognized that traditional early learning models needed to be transformed,” said Dr. Melanie Johnson, President and CEO of Collaborative for Children. “The recent pandemic has shone an even greater light on the importance of creating equitable, quality early learning opportunities for our youngest citizens,” stressed Johnson. “Students have fallen behind, many of whom didn’t have quality early learning opportunities to begin with because Houston is fraught with child care deserts. We’re leading the way to make sure that no child falls through the cracks, no matter the external circumstances,” remarked Johnson. “We see the urgency of this issue as vital to Houston’s future economic growth. That’s the reason we developed the Collab-Lab, to help change the trajectory for our community,” added Johnson.
On board the Collab-Lab, which is set to a backdrop of Houston’s diverse neighborhoods, illustrated in bright, colorful murals like a grocery, bank, space lab and more, children and parents will learn and develop skills to prepare for kindergarten and an unknown future that awaits by:
- Practicing literacy, math, and science activities
- Learning how to help a child manage their emotions and build social skills
- Continue learning at home with real-world extensions
- Connecting families with community partners and helpful community resources
Programming themes revolve around five core units that correspond to the attributes of the Collab Kid—a global learner, an innovative creator, a leader, a digital learner, and a problem solver. These core attributes are at the center of the organization’s focus of equipping children with 21st century learning skills. Working with family specialists and a family member, each child will explore hands-on activities and topics like A Community of People, Loose Parts Coding, Lego Symmetry and Perfectly Me, all designed to build on a child’s natural curiosity about their world. In addition to theme-based activities, children will also engage in skill-based and open-ended activities related to school readiness as set forth by Texas Pre-Kindergarten guidelines. Each group of children and families will spend twelve exciting weeks on the Collab-Lab, beginning January 2022.