ST. GEORGE — Dixie State University President Richard B. Williams and his wife Kristin Williams returned to preschool for a little while Tuesday afternoon, when they read to young students at the DSU Preschool to promote the “Week of the Young Child.”
Williams initiated the statewide “Read with a Child Challenge” in line with the Utah Association for Educators of Young Children’s goal to encourage 25,000 leaders across the state to read with children. In conjunction with the Week of the Young Child’s mission to “celebrate our youngest learners,” Williams challenged all other Utah college and university presidents to likewise read to young learners.
Celebrated by the National Association for Educators of Young Children since 1971, the Week of the Young Child raises awareness nationwide of the needs of young children and the services that are available to meet these needs.
“The early years of a child are critical to their development,” Cari Buckner, DSU’s Family Studies and Human Development Department chair, said. “We know that children’s brains develop while participating in experiences such as studying a bug, mixing two colors to make a new color, experimenting with magnets around the kitchen and making up stories.
Reading to young children helps them understand how letters and words go together to create meaning as well as developing a sense of story. Through play, exploration and discovery, a child’s brain develops connections that will help the child be successful throughout life.”
In addition to the Williams, who read “The Toad” and “The Perfect Nest” before encouraging the preschoolers to keep reading books, deans of Dixie State’s academic colleges, the university’s provost and other campus leaders headed to the preschool to share their favorite stories.
Beyond campus, Dixie State and Utah Association for Educators of Young Children challenge all community members to celebrate young learners by engaging with them in reading books. This effort will help ensure that every child in Utah experiences an environment that promotes learning at home, at child care, in school and throughout the community. Anyone who participates in the challenge is encouraged to share photos and videos of them reading with children.
Offering college students a strong foundation in child development and family studies, Dixie State University’s Family Studies and Human Development Department offers associate degrees in early childhood education. The degree program prepares students to teach in early childhood settings or pursue a bachelor’s degree in DSU’s Elementary Education Program.
Additionally, Dixie State’s early childhood education students gain practical experience by working with children attending the DSU Preschool. The preschool provides and maintains a high quality and developmentally appropriate education program for young children in the community while also serving as a laboratory that helps Dixie State students develop the skills and knowledge needed for the next phase of their lives.