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Quality First center in Peach Springs preserving native language for next generation

boy pointing to numbers on sign.

Across Arizona, more than 65,000 babies, toddlers and preschoolers benefited from being in child care and preschool programs that commit to improving the quality of care they provide. These nearly 1,000 providers participate in Quality First.

This First Things First signature program funds improvements that are proven to help children learn, grow and succeed. Scholarships also are funded to help more families be able to access these quality early care settings.

But what does quality child care and preschool mean for Arizona’s families? How does a quality early learning environment impact a child?

A few weeks ago, we started sharing family stories from families across Arizona whose children were enrolled in a Quality First child care program. They’ll tell you first-hand what a difference quality child care and preschool makes to the lives of their young children and hopefully provide a deeper understanding of why all children need to be ready for kindergarten and beyond.

If you can’t wait and want to read more success stories focused on quality early learning experiences, head to our family stories page.

This week, we’re sharing a story from the FTF Hualapai Tribe Region:

Andrés Nieto is learning how to count just like most toddlers, but unlike some 3-year-olds, he’s doing it in two languages.

Andrés attends the Hualapai Day Care center in Peach Springs where teachers focus on preserving the region’s native language by teaching it to the next generation of young learners.

“I really like that they’re teaching the kids Hualapai words, because he’s using them at home, too,” said Andrés’ mom, Heather Nieto. “He can say his numbers in Hualapai, along with ‘Hello, how are you?’ and ‘Come here.’”

Research shows that culturally-based early learning programs with strong native language programs positively influence a young child’s academic, social and cultural development, including self-identity.

The Hualapai Day Care has a preschool teacher on staff who is fluent in the Hualapai language and incorporates basic words into everyday lessons. The Hualapai Day Care has also partnered with the Boys and Girls Club to offer language classes once a month to parents and children.

The Hualapai Day Care center is a participant of First Things First’s signature program Quality First, which partners with child care centers and preschools across Arizona to improve early learning.

The center encourages parents to support learning at home through take-home activities and monthly family nights, Nieto said.

Andrés has attended the Hualapai Day Care center since he was 6 months old. Since he is an only child, Nieto said that at home, her son is mostly around adults. Being around kids his own age has taught him how to get along with others, which is a critical part of being ready to start kindergarten.

“I love that when he’s at the center he’s around his peers and developing his social skills,” Nieto said.

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