Recent News / Blog

Early Learning Coalition of NWFL offers summer learning

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) – Reading is important and is often associated with being taught at school.

However, educators with the Early Learning Coalition of Northwest Florida said reading success starts at home.

This comes after reports from Florida Gap Map posted by the Chamber Florida of Commerce showed that about 47 percent of Bay County third graders were reading below grade level last year.

Early Learning Coalition Northwest Florida Service Specialist Jahn Jones Education said that if children have a good reading learning foundation by kindergarten, they are more likely to have an increased literacy rate and do well by the time they have to take 3rd-grade reading exams.

“Establish routines so that way the child has a schedule every day,” Jones said. “You could do baking activities so that they’re learning their math and literacy in fun ways, teach them self-sufficiency so they know how to carry their backpacks. get themselves dressed, put their shoes on, and read. Reading is very important.”

The Early Learning Coalition will offer at least two summer events to allow families to learn about a child’s development and build relationships.

Kaleidoscope Play and Learn will take place at the following locations weekly:

Every Tuesday at the Glenwood Community Center from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Every Thursday at the Oakland Terrace Club House from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Every Monday at the Washington County Library from 9 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

Kaleidoscope Play and Learn is open to children 0-5 years.

Books, Ball, & Blocks:

June 21 at the Drip Coffee Co. from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Free screenings will be available for children two months to 8 years of age.

Areas screened include communication, gross motor, fine motor, problem-solving, and behavior.

2024 Summer Guide Program

Welcome to the Summer Program Guide by the Early Learning Coalition of Northwest Florida (ELCNWF)! We searched high and low to compile these resources, designed to help families in our community discover an array of enriching summer activities for children of all ages.

These guides offer detailed information on various programs, from educational camps and sports clinics to art workshops and outdoor adventures. Our goal is to ensure that every child has access to opportunities that promote learning, growth, and fun during the summer months.

Whether you’re looking for a full-day camp or a specialized program, you’ll find valuable options that cater to diverse interests and needs.

Governor Ron DeSantis appoints local resident as the new Early Learning Coalition chair

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) – Chase Christianson, the CEO of HCA Gulf Coast Hospital, has been appointed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to the Early Learning Coalition of Northwest Florida.

This organization focuses on educating children before kindergarten and providing parents with the resources needed to support their children’s early education.

Christianson, who previously served as the chief executive officer of Parham Doctors’ Hospital, brings valuable experience to his new role. He emphasized the importance of education in building future generations.

“If you want to think about building the next generation and impacting our community on generations on end, it really starts with education,” Christianson said. “Any social perspective of life, if you have a strong foundation in education, you’ve got an opportunity to be successful going forward and having a positive impact on your future families, on the communities around you and the neighbors you live, work, and play by.”

Christianson will serve as the chair of the Early Learning Coalition, leveraging his leadership and expertise to advance early childhood education initiatives in the region.

Parents come together to support one another at Power UP Parent Cafe event

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) – As many parents know, raising children is a lot of work, and sometimes people struggle. The Early Learning Collation of Northwest Florida joined up with Goshen Ministries to offer parents an opportunity to find support.

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, parents gathered at the Goshen Evangelic Ministries center in Panama City for the event.

There was a designated kids’ room for the children to eat and do activities while the parents gathered in a separate room. The parents sat in groups together and were given prompted questions to discuss, such as who they are as a person and about their families. The discussion then focused on the challenges that each individual faces in day-to-day life.

Event organizers said having a safe space for parents to talk about their struggles is important.

”There was a need for this across the country and we’re part of Help Me Grow National, we have Help Me Grow Northwest Florida here and the parent cafes are part of that program. The goal of all that is to give parents a space to learn from each other, talk to each other,” Brooke Powell, a communications specialist with the Early Learning Collation of Northwest Florida. “Everything that they say in that room is confidential and it’s a judgment-free zone and just to be able to share the struggles that they face that are the same struggles that we all face as parents.”

Powell said they want to give parents more opportunities to have these safe spaces, so they will be holding more Parent Cafes.

School family event brings together community

The Washington County School District held a We Are Community family fun event on May 4 from 10 a.m. -noon at Vernon High School.

The event was held to help strengthen communication and engagement between parents and teachers so students can benefit.  

Melissa Brock’s music students from Vernon Elementary School were the featured entertainment and showcased their talent by utilizing new instruments purchased from the Early Childhood Music Education Incentive Grant Program.

Vendors were there to inform the community of the services they offer. Participating this year were The Red Cross, Early Learning Coalition of Northwest Florida, Legal Services of NW Florida, Life Management Center’s Mobile Response Team (MRT), Vernon Public Library, Take Stock in Children, Art of Manhood Mentorship Organization, the mental health team of the Washington County School District, and Shepherd’s Gate Church.

Speaker Dr. Donna Austin addressed the parents and provided training packets to educate them on ways to help educate their children with everyday activities and how to effectively communicate with teachers and administrators.  

Several families won door prizes donated by the Washington County School District.