WERS: A New Approach to Intergenerational Poverty

BOSTON (April 2017) — Boston’s WERS 88.9 radio station featured Jumpstart on their “You Are From Here” segment. Jackie DeFusco interviewed Tara Jacobsen, Jumpstart Site manager at Emerson College, and Chief Program Officer, Abby Weiss on what Jumpstart is doing to help every child enter kindergarten prepared to succeed and the impact of the curriculum revision, which emphasizes social-emotional understanding. WERS delved into the programming Jumpstart provides as solutions for preschoolers from under-resourced communities. As discussed by both Jacobsen and Weiss, it’s important to remember that learning isn’t the same for every child, but spending individualized time reading or doing an activity together can make a huge impact in a child’s life. Jumpstart helps provide these intimate interactions and reading materials, that these children may otherwise not have access to.

Jumpstart works in low-income urban early childhood centers across 14 states and the District of Columbia, helping prepare 4-years-olds for kindergarten. The vast majority of its nearly 4,000 volunteers are college students. And each year, they get about 300 hours of hands-on experience in the classroom and another 40 hours of additional training specific to language and literacy in early childhood education. 

“We’re basically giving children the tools they need both to describe the feelings that they’re having and that they see in others and to give words to those so that they’re able to communicate about them and understand, recognize the causes of emotion and the consequences of emotion,” said Weiss.

“If you’re always saying ‘no, don’t do this’ or ‘no, that’s not what’s expected,’ you’re not really providing a lot of information for the child to understand what is expected. So, that is something we really work to provide for the children, by being very clear in those expectations…there’s a lot of trial and error and one thing that’s really important is how a small gain can just be written off as a small gain, but that’s actually a really big thing,” reminds Jacobsen.

Click here to listen to the full segment.

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