Local Connection: Early Learning - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Local Connection: Early Learning

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By: Wimmie Wong Lui, Executive Office on Early Learning

As the mother of two, I see firsthand how fast children pick up on the world around them.

My son is less than a year old, and my daughter just started preschool. She has great teachers who help her build on her natural curiosity.

I can already see how much she's grown. She's able to recognize colors, share her feelings, and is learning how to get along with others.

Studies show the tremendous difference early learning can make. It can give all children the same chance at life.

In 2010, the legislature set a new age for kindergarten. My daughter is one of those impacted by this change. Starting this august, a child must be 5 on or before july 31 to enter kindergarten.

Preschool costs almost the same as a year of college in hawaii. Many families struggle to pay - or just cannot afford it.

That is why Governor Abercrombie's proposal to increase the number of 4-year-olds who can have prekindergarten experiences is so important.

The proposal is now in front of legislature. It would fund preschools for low-income children on some department of education campuses and family-centered programs.

And if Hawaii voters approve a constitutional amendment in November, the state could work with community-based preschools. This would support the existing community network and expand it to meet public need.

Public-private partnerships are crucial to reach all 4-year-olds across the state.

I work for the executive office on early learning. But this is also personal for me.

A child is only four once. Let's make sure Hawaii's children have the opportunities they need to succeed.

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