Stepping Stones Children’s Museum

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – With frigid temperatures across the state we’re helping you find places to bring the kids for indoor fun. Robert Townes, the Director of Community Advocacy at Stepping Stones Museum for Children in Norwalk, stopped by the studio to talk about the museum and its programs.

What exactly is the ELLI preschool program?
* The ELLI acronym stands for Early Language and Literacy Initiative.
* It’s a joint collaboration of Stepping Stones Museum for Children and “Literacy How,” a North Haven-based organization dedicated to the application of early literacy research.
* We utilize immersive, content-rich science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) learning experiences to engage young minds.
* There are currently five ELLI classroom sites; the ELLI Lab School at Stepping Stones, ELLI at Fairfield University and three within Norwalk public schools sites – Fox Run Elementary School, Tracey Elementary School and Naramake Elementary School.
* The Lab School and the Model classrooms are open to children ages 3 – 5. The classrooms with the Norwalk Public Schools are partially funded with School Readiness funds. The Fairfield U site also has model classrooms for infants and toddlers

Why did Stepping Stones create a structured preschool program?
* ELLI was created to prepare all children for a world of possibilities.
* It was born out of an attempt to address Connecticut’s achievement gap, which is the largest in the nation.
* The school achievement gap in Connecticut is multifaceted and shaped by disparities in income levels, language, vocabulary, background knowledge, preparedness and opportunity.
* The development of early language and literacy skills lays the foundation for reading and future success in school, work and life.
* In order to master other subjects and communicate what they have learned, children must be interested, motivated and develop the skills to read and write.

Are there other ELLI program offerings?
* Early ELLI Series – An 8 week series for children 18 – 36 months and their parent or caregiver that aligns with Connecticut Early Learning and Development Standards.
* The new Baby and Me! program ideal for children ages 9 to 18 months and their caregiver.
* ELLI TeachNET – An embedded professional development program designed for ELLI and non-ELLI early childhood professionals.
* ELLI After School Adventures program coming soon.

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