First 10: Schools and Communities in Maine

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(Education Development Center, 2020)

What is a First 10 School and Community? 

First 10 Schools and Communities are “partnerships of school districts, elementary schools, early childhood programs, and community partners that come together to work on improving teaching, learning, and care for young children and their families” (Jacobson, 2019).  These schools and community partners provide consistent quality of services to all children and families, align resources and supports across the age span, and support smooth transitions at each stage of development. Families are essential partners in First 10 Schools and Communities, collaborating to nurture children’s development and well-being.   

Why are First 10 Schools and Communities important? 

During the First 10 years of life, the development of a child’s brain architecture provides the lifelong foundation to all future learning, behavior and health.  “The early years are the most active period for establishing neural connections, but new connections can form throughout life and unused connections continue to be pruned” (Harvard University, 2019).  Brain development builds over time, starting prenatally and continues throughout childhood.  Children’s relationships and environments play a major role in the overall development of their brain architecture.  “Experiences that are individualized to the child’s unique personality style; that build on his or her own interests, capabilities, and initiative; and that shape the child’s self-awareness” (Harvard University, 2019) are essential to overall development.   

What components are critical to First 10 Schools and Communities?  

When forming and implementing First 10 Schools and Communities, several components are critical to the design: Collaboration to Improve Teaching & Learning, Culturally Responsive Partnerships, Strategic Leadership and Well-Coordinated & Comprehensive Services. Thoughtfully implemented, these components support positive academic achievement and social-emotional development as children reach fifth grade. These components also work in a coordinated fashion to ensure that families, schools, and community services (such as childcare, health care, parent education, etc.) achieve the fullest potential of their efforts