The Valdosta Daily Times
Reaching children at a critical age is essential to their success, not only in education, but in life. The critical age is generally from pre-K through third grade, and educators say children who are not reading, thinking critically and performing at or near grade level at this time become difficult to teach and to impact as they grow older. Any program that is directed towards providing children in this critical stage with skills that are needed throughout their lives should be encouraged and supported.
Not all children are gifted athletes, and programs such as the chess tutors who volunteer with children at LODAC, the school system and with the Boys and Girls Club are teaching the same critical thinking skills that others learn through sports. Not all
children learn the same, and not all are reached through the same programs, so having a variety of options available in the community should
have a great impact.
The First Tee program looks promising, in that it teaches coordination, concentration, and motor skills but children are able to learn and progress at their own pace. Golf is an individual game, played with others, giving students the opportunity to compete against themselves to improve their scores and skills. Bringing the First Tee program into area elementary schools would be beneficial in helping students who might not otherwise have the opportunity to learn a new sport and develop their skills.
It will take thinking outside the box, implementing new and different programs and learning how to reach children at each critical stage of their development to produce stable and productive citizens in the future. No one program is good for everyone, but having a variety of programs all geared towards student success, engagement, and activity would be very beneficial indeed.