Path Home Shows 2016 Show Archive November 2016 Show 1646 Workforce Training Begins in Pre-K

Workforce Training Begins in Pre-K

Teachers and caregiver trainees in the early care and education program at Canadian Valley Tech Center believe preschoolers learn by doing.
Workforce Training Begins in Pre-K

Workforce Training Begins in Pre-K

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Canadian Valley Tech Center


University of Oklahoma

OU Children’s Hospital


Show Details

Show 1646: Workforce Training Begins in Pre-K
Air Date: November 13, 2016



Rob McClendon: Hello, everyone. Thanks for joining us here on “Horizon.” I’m Rob McClendon. So how early should workforce training begin? Well, a growing body of evidence shows as early as pre-K. In fact, medical research shows that genetic makeup is not the key element in generating a child's cognitive or social skills. But that doesn’t mean parents aren’t vitally important because it is a child’s interaction with adults in the first three years of life that creates the constructive brain development that will last a lifetime. And early childhood education is going through something of a renaissance. Much like what we’re seeing in middle and high school, it’s now less about learning by the test and more about learning by doing. And it’s this different focus that instructors say could help our workforce development down the road. Our Blane Singletary takes us to a tech center where learning by doing takes on multiple forms.

[Singing: We’re ready to start the day].

Blane Singletary: It’s the start of another day of play at the early care and education program at CV Tech. Here, it’s as much an educational experience for these teachers and caregivers in training as it is for the preschoolers.

Mary Beth Carver: In the program, the students learn about early childhood education, they learn about child development.

Blane: That’s Mary Beth Carver, director of the program.

Carver: The most exciting part, though, is the interaction with young children.

Blane: It’s this interaction that’s at the forefront of what they do here.

Carver: We just know that the most important thing that the child needs is interaction with adults. And so through this program, students can experience every aspect of a child’s young life.

Blane: And Carver says one of the best kinds of experiences a young child can have is play.

Carver: Play is the most important thing that children do. Play is a child’s work. The child is really learning about their world. They’re practicing what they’re going to do in the future.

Blane: And what these preschoolers and toddlers are doing today is also what these high schoolers are doing. They aren’t learning by worksheets, textbooks or flashcards, but through activities involving real-world objects and experiences. Desaray Hayes is a senior in the program.

Desaray Hayes: We’re all learning together. We’re here as students, but they’re also students theirselves. So being able to communicate, interact with them, see what they think or what I think, I think that’s much better than just reading it out of a book.

Blane: The goal of this program for these kids age 4 and younger is to get them on the right track through literacy and numeracy. And the way they do that is through language. That’s goes double for the kids who can’t even speak yet.

Carver: We need to provide children with a language rich environment. We need face-to-face. That child needs to see your expressions and hear your language. That’s how he develops language. The job of the toddler is to learn language. The preschooler’s learning how to communicate.

Blane: And this isn’t just something happening here at CV Tech. It’s a growing trend in early childhood education. Jennifer Quillian, early childhood specialist at the University of Oklahoma, says numeracy has been left out of this conversation for too long.

Jennifer Quillian: If we can incorporate math into literacy and show them how easy that is – talking about cutting the apple in half, I mean, those are vocabulary terms in math, and talking about measuring and pouring.

Blane: But with children being at day care or preschool for only a fraction of their day, it becomes necessary for parents to continue this learning experience at home. Luckily, that’s easy to do, too.

Quillian: My son is actually really into sports. And so we started talking about numbers that players wear, and we bring attention to that. So we started talking about numbers, counting to those numbers, what does that number look like, mom? We play hiding games – I’m going to hide under something, so try to find me under something.

Blane: Reinforcing vocabulary and fostering math in this way is essential to getting children in the right state of mind when they start elementary school, middle school and even further down the line, when they start in the workforce. Dr. Marny Dunlap is a physician at OU Children’s Hospital.

Marny Dunlap: We know about 80 percent of a child’s brain is formed by the time they’re three years old. So early literacy is really the key. We want kids to hear words and sounds and, you know, singing and talking and all of those things. Because we know when kids start school, they’re more likely to stay on track. They’re more likely to pass their third-grade reading test. They’re more likely not to drop out of school, get more education and become more productive citizens in the workforce.

Blane: And with the jobs that Oklahoma will need in the coming years, many of which are STEM jobs, the time to start preparing kids for this reality is now. Again, Mary Beth Carver.

Carver: What we need is children to be interested in math and numeracy and interested in language. Jobs are changing, so children need to have the ability to reason. They need to be able to figure out problems on their own. Those are very important for the future.

Blane: And these education experts agree learning by play in preschool is a no-brainer.

Quillian: They’re going to do those through play and play is so important.

Rob McClendon: Now, in the past, we’ve talked about how a little playful, creative thinking can help everyone, regardless of their occupation. To see these stories and more about early childhood development just head to our website at and look for them under the value added section. Now, when we return, we take a look at the economics of early childhood education.