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Benton, IL

Kids Get New Learning Center

Kids Get New Learning Center
By: Arnold Wyrick

Benton, IL - How young is too young when it comes to teaching kids?  Well for families living in Benton, Illinois their kids are going to get a jump start on school.  Once the towns new Early Learning Center is completed, 100 kids will get their first taste of academics.

"Studies have reinforced that early childhood education makes a real significant difference in a child life.  They do better at school.  They learn to read easier.  And they're much better readers by the time they reach the 3rd Grade," says Illinois' First Lady Patricia Blagojevich.

"We saw from our own experience the benefits of an early childhood education with our oldest daughter."

The First Lady delivered the news to a packed gymnasium at the Benton Grade School, that the state was going to kick in $450,000.00 dollars in grant money to support the completion of the district's new Early Learning Center.

"Four short years ago we were serving 3 to 5 year olds out of their house.  We had no classroom space.  We're overcrowded as it is now.  We could not reach the kids that were identified as at risk," says Superintendent Richard Cook.

"Now we're going to have a family center that we can do parenting classes.  And we're going to have a program for those families with children age zero to 3.  So it's going to reach out district wide, and community wide."

The First Lady says that getting kids to learn at a much younger age, can have long term benefits.

"They graduate from high school in greater numbers.  They graduate from colleges in greater numbers.  They have more earning power, they're more likely to own their own home.  And they're less likely to end up with juvenile crime problems."

The new school geared towards Pre-K students will teach the kids far more then their older brothers and sisters ever learned.

"Where before you learned some social skills. And you learned some hand-eye coordination.  You learned some colors, and your ABC's.  Now if you can't read by the time you leave kindergarten you're behind," Superintendent Cook said.

"And we're going to prepare our kids for kindergarten in a fashion that's a secure environment.  It's going to give them a jump start.  It's going to be an advantageous opportunity for the kids in this community."

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