Week of the Young Child™: Why focus on young children and early childhood programs?

April 11th, 2013

by Katrina Brooke

What is the Week of the Young Child?

The Week of the Young Child™ is an annual celebration sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the world’s largest early childhood education association, with nearly 80,000 members and a network of over 300 local, state, and regional Affiliates.

The purpose of the Week of the Young Child™ is to focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs.

NAEYC first established the Week of the Young Child™ in 1971, recognizing that the early childhood years (birth through age 8) lay the foundation for children’s success in school and later life. The Week of the Young Child™ is a time to plan how we—as citizens of a community, of a state, and of a nation—will better meet the needs of all young children and their families.

In 2011, NAEYC celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Week of the Young Child™. For more information about the history to the event and the  40th anniversary and the history of the Week of the Young Child™, read “Week of the Young Child™ Turns 40!”

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What is the Week of the Young Child theme?

The theme for the Week of the Young Child™ 2013 is Early Years Are Learning Years®. However, groups may elect to use one of the WOYC sub-themes if they wish.

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Who sponsors the Week of the Young Child?

NAEYC designates the Week of the Young Child™ dates and theme, but events are planned and implemented by local communities. Celebrations are organized and coordinated by regional, state, and local NAEYC Affiliates, and by individual early childhood programs and community organizations providing services to young children and families.

Local communities may tailor celebrations to meet their own needs. For example, while NAEYC traditionally designates a Week of the Young Child™, some groups generate so much enthusiasm and support that they celebrate the “Month of the Young Child.” Others have modified the dates of their celebration to coordinate with other community scheduled events.

However adapted, the central purpose remains unchanged—to promote the needs of young children, their families, and the early childhood programs that serve them.

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Why focus on young children and early childhood programs?

Today we know more than ever before about the importance of children’s earliest years in shaping their learning and development. Yet, never before have the needs of young children and their families been more pressing.

The Week of the Young Child™ is a time to recognize that children’s opportunities are our responsibilities, and to recommit ourselves to ensuring that each and every child experiences the type of early environment—at home, at child care, at school, and in the community—that will promote their early learning.

Read NAEYC’s A Call for Excellence in Early Childhood Education, which describes our vision for all children, all early childhood professionals, all families, and all communities.

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How do people celebrate Week of the Young Child?

Here are a few descriptions of recent WOYC events in communities around the country:

“We held a Family Writing Workshop where parents were invited to create a book with their children. A book-writing kit was provided, and children and parents shared their books at a show and tell. The books are now part of our library collection.”

“We displayed children’s artwork throughout the center and made a DVD slide show of the children. Monday was Parent Appreciation Day, where parents were served light refreshments and received a card from their child. Tuesday was Hat Day. Wednesday was Teacher Appreciation Day, with a pot luck lunch for staff. It was also Beach Party Day. Thursday was Inside Out Day and Friday we had an ice cream social.”

“Our city granted us a permit to hold a parade and children’s fair celebrating young children. There were over 500 children who paraded down the main street in decorated wagons, tricycles, or on foot. They marched with their child care providers or early childhood teachers. The free fair had booths representing all of the early childhood agencies and other services and also childcare providers.”

“A group of parents and children marched to City Hall. The mayor joined us and read a proclamation adopted by our City Council about the Week of the Young Child. Additionally, we held a press conference sharing information about the importance of quality early care and education.”

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When is the Week of the Young Child?

  • April 14–20, 2013
  • April 6–12, 2014
  • April 12–18, 2015
  • April 10–16, 2016
  • April 23–29, 2017

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