On February 12th, the State Capitol’s rotunda was transformed into a Family Child Interactive Learning (FCIL) site. Hundreds of families from across the island gathered in support of Native Hawaiian early childhood education. ‘Eleu, the Native Hawaiian Early Childhood Consortium, coordinated the family-engagement event to illustrate the many benefits of involving parents and caregivers in their keiki’s early learning. Colorful activities blanketed the rotunda floors as Kealani Makaiwi of Keiki O Ka ʻĀina opened the event with a kāhea, followed by ʻoli from participating ‘Eleu programs: The Institute for Native Pacific Education and Culture (INPEACE), Keiki ʻŌ Ka ‘Āina Family Learning Centers (KOKA), and Ka Paʻalana, Nā Pono, and Tūtū and Me Travelling Preschool of our Partners In Development Foundation (PIDF).
Speakers greeted families and praised families’ commitment to their keiki’s education and encouraged policymakers to support our family-strengthening programs. Senator Jill Tokuda said, “We need to do more for our youngest of keiki to make sure that we had resources, to make sure that our babies could start right when they started Kindergarten and put more towards early learning.” Representative Andria Tupola and Representative Lauren Matsumoto also came and spoke words of encouragement and support that meant so much to families. They all spent some time interacting with keiki in the different centers laid out on the mats.
Alex Santiago, coordinator for No Vote No Grumble and the Pono Policy Academy, commented, “We have a lot of people here who want to educate our legislators, our policymakers, about the importance of early childhood education. We want to just make sure that our policymakers know that there are a lot of people out there that really care about their support for these programs.”
PIDF President, Jan Dill, asked, “Pehea nā keiki? Pehea nā kūpuna? How are the children? How are the elders?” These questions is a gauge to measure the health of the community. Thankfully, we know that when families become part of our Native Hawaiian FCIL programs, they are being supported, mentored, and surrounded by rich learning opportunities that embrace Hawaiian cultural values. FCIL programs support our ‘ohana in two key ways: 1. They provide preschool experience for keiki who may not be able to attend traditional preschool and 2. They support parents, grandparents, and other caregivers as keiki’s first and most important teacher. Keiki gain educational and social skills needed for successful transition into Kindergarten, while caregivers learn teaching techniques and advocacy skills that help them to support their keiki. Research has shown that family involvement in keiki’s early learning is linked to improved verbal, motor, and adaptive skills as well as academic success in school, and that when parents are involved in the early years, they are more likely to continue to support their keiki’s learning in the years ahead. To contact policymakers to encourage their support of our FCIL programs, click on the links below to locate your district representatives and their contact information.
•(Senate) List of Senators and Districts
•(House) List of Representatives and Districts