Michigan author Gary Wise (right) reads his book “The Parents of Flannery McKracken” to local children at Panera Bread’s Family Fun Day on April 9 in Southgate. Panera stores have partnered with Early Learning Communities on events that provide free activities and information to children and parents.
DETROIT – Panera Bread has partnered with Early Learning Communities, a United Way for Southeastern Michigan program, to provide free educational activities and information for children and their parents on the second Saturday of each month during the school year.
Early Learning Communities is a network of neighborhood-based hubs providing free training and resources to parents and caregivers of children aged birth to 5.
From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on select dates, children will participate in educational crafts, cookie decorating and reading activities. Local authors also will be on site at select locations to read their books to the children. While children play, parents will have the opportunity to learn about the Early Learning Communities program and how to best prepare children for school. The events are open to all ages.
Early Learning Communities was started to ensure that all children enter kindergarten ready to succeed. Organizers cite research showing that the first three years of life are critical to a child’s ultimate success in school and in life, making it an important time to intervene to guarantee long-term achievement.
“Studies have shown that children who can’t read by first grade will spend their entire lifetime catching up,” said Annemarie Harris, director of early childhood initiatives for UWSEM. “In partnership with Panera Bread, we are bringing families together to discuss how parents can get their children ready for school. Last year’s program was a great success, and we’re looking forward to helping more families this year.”
United Way for Southeastern Michigan is Panera Bread’s Operation Dough-Nation partner in metropolitan Detroit. For all donations made to Panera’s Community Breadbox, located near the registers, the company matches a portion back to UWSEM.