Two things I learned in Utah

Just got back from a whirlwind tour of the Waterford Early Learning Institute in Salt Lake City. I’m usually pretty cautious about recommending educational programs or software, but I have to say that I’m pretty impressed with Waterford. It provides a solid foundation for literacy, numeracy and science concepts for preschoolers up through Kindergarten and first grade. Based on decades of best practices for teaching young children, there is some high quality research that indicate incredible gains for children using the program as part of a balanced literacy and mathematics curriculum.

I know it’s a time of budget cuts, educational woes and misery, debate over who is to blame (teachers and unions being the most popular scapegoats at the moment, followed by poverty) … so when will we get a dose of common sense in the discussion? If we invest wisely (and we’re not talking millions here, for heaven’s sake) in our youngest learners to insure they are on a path to solid literacy and numeracy understandings by they time they are 7 years old … just think what we would end up saving – money and time that we would certainly have to spend on special education, legal fees, intervention programs, school reform headaches, incarceration, rehabilitation – you name it. A lack of prudent investment in young children will result in wildly increasing (and most likely ineffective) spending on those kids as they get older, struggle, and do not become happy and productive members of society. I’m not saying Waterford is the answer (and I don’t receive a penny if someone buys the program), but it sure is a tried and true option. The folks at Waterford are a dedicated bunch, and all their energy is focused on creating a personalized and effective experience to support young children as they develop into happy and successful learners.

So that was the first thing I learned … well, I guess I didn’t learn it – it’s a bit of a no-brainer. But the visit to Waterford really brought it home. The solutions are out there.

And the second thing … Utah is one beautiful place! Salt Lake City, ringed by snow-capped mountains, is a comfortable city, both modern and old-timey all at once. The folks are reserved, but warm. And the famed Park City resort – although I felt a bit like I was in a Disney-ized realization of an old mining town – couldn’t be beat for its beauty. Old miner’s homes at the bottom of the hill, million dollar resort homes heading up to the ski slopes – and all around, the snow capped mountains in the crisp, sharp sunlight. Worth a visit.

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