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Early Early
Learning begins at birth and the first five years of a child’s life is most critical to a child’s learning and emotional development. The early years, the period of time between birth and kindergarten, is vitally important to a child’s future success in school and life. To help you put your baby and/or young child on the "road" to success check out all the early childhood education resources available to you and your Sarasota child!
Choosing child care is one of the most important decisions a parent can make.  Do your homework and learn what quality is. Check out the Quality Childcare Checklist and Family Guide on The Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota County's Web site.

Take the time to choose wisely.  Every family and child has individual and unique needs.  The Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota County's Child Care Connection can help by providing free individualized referrals for early care and education.

Learn about our community’s star rating system for child care called Look for the Stars.  Find out which early care and education sites participate and have made the commitment to high quality early learning environments.

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    Parents can be overwhelmed with the cost of child care. There are resources in our community
    that can help. Find out about:
    • VPK (Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten) is a FREE program for any child who is 4 years and old and not eligible for kindergarten.  
    • Child Care Connection offers child care scholarships for eligible families.
    • Children First Inc. offers free comprehensive Early Head Start (for expectant families and children 6 weeks to 3 years of age) and Head Start (children 3-5 years old) programs for eligible families.

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    Getting ready for kindergarten starts at birth and is more than academics. Nurturing your child's social and emotional well being is also important. The following websites and downloadable tools can help ensure that your child is ready for school.
    • .
    • The Help Your Child Learn section of this Web site is a great resource to help your child get ready for Kindergarten.
    • Don't forget to visit the "Your Growing Child" section to view a developmental checklist.
    • Sarasota County Schools offers a kindergarten readiness screening based on standards adopted by the State Board of Education.  You can also find a listing of all of Sarasota County's public elementary schools and much more!

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    Educational success for your child starts with teamwork! Be an active partner, and team up with your child’s teachers to ensure that his/her learning needs are being met. When you advocate for your child and position yourself as a "wise owl," both you and your child can benefit from the positive, productive relationship that is being built between your family and your school.
    • PBS Parents - The experts have been polled and the results are in: a positive parent-teacher relationship contributes to your child’s school success. However, forming positive relationships between your child’s teacher/school may be easier said than done. To learn how to nurture these relationships visit this site.
    • US Department of Health and Human Services - provides parents with useful information for parents on how to talk with educators at your child’s school about bullying.
    • Mouse, Bull, Fox & Owl - Are you more like a mouse, bull, or a fox when communicating with your child’s school? Avoiding problems like the "meek mouse," charging in like the "angry bull, or stirring up trouble like the “sneaky fox" never helps to improve parent - teacher/school relations. It’s always best to be the "wise owl" when working with your child’s school. To better understand your communication style and learn how to be the best "owl" you can be, click here!
    • Family Network on Disabilities (FND) of Sarasota/Manatee, INC. -HOPE advocacy services assist parents, caregivers, and guardians of children with disabilities and special needs learn how to become their child's best advocate.
    • Florida Inclusion Network - provides learning opportunities, consultation, information and support to educators, families, and community members resulting in the inclusion of all students.

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