Excerpts from article:
Watertown a leader in early childhood programs
By Dan Atkinson/ Staff Writer
Watertown TAB & Press, Massachussettes
Feb 18 2005
About 18 months ago, Maral Karamousayan had a problem. Her oldest children were preparing to enter kindergarten, but Karamousayan, an Armenian originally from Syria, was concerned about their ability to read and speak English. She heard from a friend about a free twice-weekly program that helped children with their reading and signed up.
Now, she said, her children have gone from not speaking any English to using it all the time, and reading "is the best thing in the house."
Karamousayan is participating in the Parent Child Home Program, one of several early childhood education programs in Watertown. Although Watertown is much smaller than neighboring communities such as Newton and Waltham, it receives nearly $750,000 in grants from the commonwealth for early childhood programs, despite cuts in funding over the past few years. Newton receives about $835,000 in state grants for early childhood education, and Waltham gets about $118,000.
Fagan said the program's goal is to "encourage a love of books," and Karamousayan said her children have taken their reading to heart. Her 6-year-old daughter, Anais, reads bedtime stories, with Karamousayan's help, to her younger siblings. Her son, Mike, was a year old when the family began the program in September 2003, and now brings books into the room when Kathy Kopp, the family's modeler, comes by on her twice-weekly visits.
Karamousayan is fluent in English, but said she was still shy about reading aloud before she started the Parent Child Home Program. Now she is reading "Charlotte's Web" to Anais, and is more involved in the community through the Watertown Family Network. She takes Mike to play group every Tuesday and music class on Friday at the family center. Fagan said people like Karamousayan show the usefulness of Watertown's early childhood programs, and are good arguments for increased funding