Newsletter - February 2020
SPARK is the hub of a valuable wheel. An education initiative of Fox Valley United Way, SPARK (Strong, Prepared and Ready for Kindergarten) connects underserved Aurora, Illinois, families with early education and childcare opportunities that prepare their young children for success in school and life.
SPARK Calendar
Our SPARK monthly calendar will introduce a monthly book from the Mind in the Making book collection. Each book will be accompanied with an activity that fosters the Seven Essentials Life Skills.

About Mind in the Making

Mind in the Making,  a program of the Bezos Family Foundation, is an unprecedented effort to share the science of children’s learning with the general public, families and professionals who work with children and families.
Mind in the Making has partnered with First Book, a nonprofit social enterprise that provides books and educational materials for educators serving children in need, to curate a groundbreaking Mind in the Making Book Collection that combines children's books with tips for building The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs (HarperCollins, 2010) by Ellen Galinsky

To learn more about the Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs visit
To learn more about the Mind in the Making Book Collection by visiting
Little Library Project
We are thrilled to announce the first of our little libraries was installed at SciTech Hands-On Museum in January. These free libraries will allow all children in our community to access to free books.

We couldn't have brought this project to fruition without the help of our planning committee; Chuck Tuura a resident that donated all of the upcycled newspaper boxes that we are using as the libraries; Noah an Eagle Scout candidate whose final project was to help complete a little library from start to finish; and Aurora Kiwanis Foundation for helping us SPARK a love of reading.
Here is what Chuck had to say about the Little Libraries project

1) What made you want to get involved with the little libraries?
One of my friends was involved with Little Free Libraries and encouraged me to start one. I said I would when my first child started Kindergarten. About 8 years later, my first daughter started Kindergarten and I kept my promise.
I wanted a family activity that introduced and involved my children in our neighborhood and community. Our Little Library has become an icebreaker to meet neighbors and people across our city.
2) How does this project give back to the community?
There is an abundance of books in our community, but access to those books is limited. A child, eager to read, may not be able to get to a library. A Little Library offers walking distance access to reading material. 

Anyone in the community with books they no longer need, can put them in a Little Library to share them with others. Since anyone can donate books, and anyone can take a book, it’s a true platform for one person to help another. 

3) How can others get involved with this project?
There are several ways to get involved. Little Free Library has a website that offers prebuilt Libraries for purchase. They also offer advice on how to build one on a budget, and how to stock and maintain a Little Library. 

Locally, SPARK is planning to introduce Lending Libraries to the community. On Facebook I have two small pages. Golden Oaks Little Free Library is my Library, and Fox Valley’s Little Libraries, which is a place where local Stewards or potential Stewards, can communicate and work together to share books and spread libraries across our community.
Upcoming Events
Family Activities
Did you know Fox Valley United Way is now part of the Talking is Teaching community? We have partnered with Talking is Teaching to help spread the message that talking to your children is teaching them! We will share a new prompt every month in our newsletter to promote conversation around different topics
Nurturing relationships with parents and caregivers lay the foundation for children’s healthy social-emotional development. A loving and secure environment helps children feel safe and develop trust.  

"Often, there is a lot of emphasis placed on the cognitive or physical skills young children pick up—how to roll over, walk, or recite a nursery rhyme, for example. But in truth, social and emotional skills are just as important to early brain development, and for reasons that scientists are just beginning to understand. And this type of early social-emotional development has a direct connection to how parents and caregivers interact with their children early on." Read more on how bonding builds your baby's brain below.
Give math topics a little love by sharing these books about caring, friendship, family…and chocolate. You’ll find that these books can spark conversation about mathematical ideas and provide a meaningful context for further exploration.
Census 2020 Count All Kids
Nearly 10% of children Birth-5 years old were missed in the 2010 US Census, causing overcrowded classrooms and underfunded programs. We are working to ensure we count all kids to that every child has the resources they need to be strong, prepared, and ready for kindergarten.

Watch this video to learn more about how important an accurate Census is for children.
Schedule a FREE Developmental Screening Today
Contact us at (630)896-4636 to schedule your FREE developmental screening today! A screening is quick and fun for your child. It will take approximately 20 minutes and we will ask you questions about what your child can do! Every child will receive a free backpack with activities to help prepare them for preschool!

What is a Developmental Screening?

Developmental screening takes a closer look at how your child is developing. Your child will get a brief test, or you will complete a questionnaire about your child. The tools used for developmental and behavioral screening are formal questionnaires or checklists based on research that ask questions about a child’s development, including language, movement, thinking, behavior, and emotions. Developmental screening can be done by a doctor or nurse, but also by other professionals in healthcare, community, or school settings.

At what ages should you have your child screened?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends developmental and behavioral screening for all children during regular well-child visits at these ages:
  • 9 months
  • 18 months
  • 24 or 30 months
SPARK Community Meeting

When: Wednesday, February 26th
9:30am. - 11:30am.
Where: Santori Library
101 S. River St. Aurora
Playful Learning Aurora
Check out our new website detailing the Playful Learning Initiative here in Aurora! Playful Learning is a collaborative project that transforms everyday public spaces where families work, play, and live into opportunities for learning. Playful learning takes moments such as waiting for the bus, passing time at the laundromat, or waiting at the doctor’s office and turns them into fun learning experiences for both children and their families. This project brings together the science of learning and urban design to infuse cities with playful learning opportunities. Stay tuned for an update about the new Playful Learning installation coming to Hesed House!