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Hopkins House Preschoolers Go Off to College

July 14, 2016 01:02 PM
In the hopes of sparking conversation at home about college and future opportunity, Hopkins House has partnered this summer with Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC) to introduce its preschool academy young scholars and their families to the college campus.

IMG_0922Through the Crayons to College Preschool Field Trip Program, organized by NVCC's College Pathway Initiatives, Hopkins House preschoolers are given a private tour of the campus by college students during the summer months when the campus is calmer and less crowded.  The preschoolers spend a day visiting the college library, theatre, and other campus locations. The hope is that the children will then share their experience with their families when they return home.

The program is an unconventional and nontraditional approach to college preparation. It relies on the natural instincts of children to be excited by new experiences, to be inquisitive, and to be eager story tellers.

IMG_0930"It's a conversation starter," says Greta Duncan, Principal of Hopkins House's James L. & Juliette McNeil Preschool Academy. "It may be the spark that ignites an interest -- on the part of the child and parent -- in college... Children are naturally curious and filled with questions and, hopefully, their parents will be encouraged to seek the answers."

According to Duncan, the program may be the first time a parent considers college a real possibility for their children.  This is particularly true, she says, for families with limited income and little to no prior college experience.

"Parents get excited when they find that their children are interested in college, even at this early time in their lives. Our goal at Hopkins House is to keep parents and their children excited."

Research indicates that enhanced learning experiences can often predict greater educational outcomes, particularly for children from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds.  The Crayons to College Preschool Field Trip Program is one such enhanced learning experience.  It introduces a broader vision of the future for children and raises expectations for their families.  It begins the conversation among family members about what college can mean for their children, for their children's future, and even for parents themselves. The program helps to demystify college and bring it home, to the kitchen table, into the family conversation.  It's another example of dual-generation learning.

"IMG_0942Through this early exposure to the college campus, we hope to plant the seed about college in our young scholars -- with the hope that this seed will be nutured by their parents and, over time, blossom and bear fruit that feeds the family for a lifetime," offered Duncan.