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STARTING AHEAD: A stunning photo exhibit on early childhood education

Three photojournalists from Iris PhotoCollective spent months capturing the special bond between young children and their teachers, and documenting best practices in early childhood education. The exhibit, located near Gate D31, runs until early 2018. The Children’s Movement of Florida, Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe and Miami-Dade Aviation Department collaborated on the project. It was curated by Dr. Yolanda Sanchez, former director of the airport’s Fine Arts and Cultural Affairs Division.

Storytime plays an important role in introducing children to the magic of books, an introduction that may not happen at home. In middle income neighborhoods, the ratio of books per child is 13:1. In low income neighborhoods, the ratio is 1 book to 300 children. C.W. Griffin / Iris PhotoCollective

You may think that some children have “dinosaurs on the brain” but this kind of inquiry fosters curiosity and a thirst for learning. C.W. Griffin / Iris PhotoCollective

Play-based learning is the magic that takes place when a child’s sense of wonder is challenged through thoughtfully planned learning experiences. There is an urgent need for high quality learning environments for our youngest learners. C.W. Griffin / Iris PhotoCollective

Children are natural born artists. From the time they are born, they seek to construct meaning through their environment and over time, art often takes a back seat. Florida ranks 37th in per student spending for VPK (Voluntary Prekindergarten). C.W. Griffin / Iris PhotoCollective

Healthy habits make for healthy smiles and school readiness begins with good health. Florida ranks 44th in the nation for uninsured children. C.W. Griffin / Iris PhotoCollective

Pretend play provides clear cognitive benefits for young children such as increases in language usage. C.W. Griffin / Iris PhotoCollective

From the moment they are born, children are exposed to information that can teach them about who they are. There is strong evidence that social and emotional skills are as critical to school adjustments as are competencies in language and academic readiness skills. C.W. Griffin / Iris PhotoCollective

Through gardening, children learn about the natural world and explore how things grow, smell and taste; yet for far too many children the connection between the farm and table has been lost. C.W. Griffin / Iris PhotoCollective

Babies communicate from birth, through sounds, facial expressions and gestures. Babies continue to develop communication skills when adults respond to their efforts. Talk, read and sing to your child every day! C.W. Griffin / Iris PhotoCollective

Teachers become teachers because of their love for children and their passion for the profession. But that passion is often lost in the very preschool classroom they once loved. Florida has some of the highest staff to child ratios in the United States making individualized teaching very challenging. Carl-Philippe Juste / Iris PhotoCollective

Children need to learn through their own efforts. A teacher must provide guidance and encouragement to children as they learn how the body moves; yet many preschool classrooms are staffed with poorly trained and underpaid teachers who earn an average of $9.70 an hour. Carl-Philippe Juste / Iris PhotoCollective

Provide a safe and positive environment for children who are visiting social services agencies with their families. Many families living just above the poverty line are ineligible for services but unable to afford high quality early education. Carl-Philippe Juste / Iris PhotoCollective

There is a 30 million word gap in words heard by age three between children born into poverty and their more affluent peers. Carl-Philippe Juste / Iris PhotoCollective

Trust and teaching go hand in hand. Male role models are important for preschoolers, yet only 1 in 100 teachers are male. André Chung / Iris PhotoCollective

Nurturing is vital to children’s development. It is a secret ingredient that enables children to grow physically, socially and emotionally. A bridge between school and home is vital to this process. Carl-Philippe Juste / Iris PhotoCollective

Children’s earliest experiences matter. Brain science confirms that early experiences determine whether there will be a solid or weak foundation for development of the architecture of the brain and sets the stage for all future learning, behavior and health. C.W. Griffin / Iris PhotoCollective

Dr. Sargine Dupuy Pediatrician Jessie Trice Community Health Center, Inc. Carl-Philippe Juste / Iris PhotoCollective

Fred Paredes Pre-K Head Teacher Exploration Station The Preschool at Miami Dade College C.W. Griffin / Iris PhotoCollective

Marvette Bell Early Head Start Caregiver YWCA of Greater Miami Gerry Sweet Child Care Center C.W. Griffin / Iris PhotoCollective

Elliott Bassile Co-Teacher, Family 1 Preschool 2 United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education Demonstration School Carl-Philippe Juste / Iris PhotoCollective

Family style dining affords children with the opportunity to make healthy food choices, advances social development and executive function. André Chung / Iris PhotoCollective

The play of young children provides wonderful opportunities for fun, spontaneity and social interaction. André Chung / Iris PhotoCollective

A simple “high five” in a preschool classroom demonstrates praise and acceptance and opens the door to deeper engagement. Many needy children never have access to preschool. There are approximately 50,000 children waiting for subsidized childcare in Florida. Carl-Philippe Juste / Iris PhotoCollective

An inclusive classroom provides all children with access to a wide range of learning opportunities, activities, settings, materials and environments. Early screening and intervention is critical for all children, especially those born at risk for developmental delays. Carl-Philippe Juste / Iris PhotoCollective

Children are using early math skills throughout their daily routines and activities. Informal math activities like this one give children a jumpstart for school. Carl-Philippe Juste / Iris PhotoCollective

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