NACOGDOCHES, Texas - The Early Childhood Lab at Stephen F. Austin State University and the Greater East Texas Community Action Program Head Start are hosting events to celebrate the Week of the Young Child April 23-27. The Week of the Young Child is time to recognize the importance of early learning for all young children, according to Lori Harkness, director of the Early Childhood Lab.

"All young children need and deserve high-quality early learning experiences that will prepare them for life, and Nacogdoches residents have a great opportunity to do our part to help young children," Harkness said.

A safe, nurturing, engaging, enjoyable and secure learning environment provides children with the necessary confidence to succeed in the present and to deal with later responsibilities in school and in life, Harkness said.

The seventh annual Family Fun Day will be hosted downtown in Festival Park for the entire community from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, April 21. The free event will include fun-filled activities for children and their families. Sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the Week of the Young Child is an opportunity for early childhood programs across the country, including child care and Head Start programs, preschools, and elementary schools, to hold activities to bring awareness to the need for high-quality education and care, which help children get a great start and bring lasting benefits to the community and nation.

"The Week of the Young Child is a time to recognize the importance of early learning and early literacy, and to celebrate the teachers and policies that bring early childhood education to young children," Harkness said.

Daycare facilities, schools and other organizations working with children are encouraged to participate in various events and activities to focus on our children and those who work with children. Themes of each day are: Monday, Physical Activity Day; Tuesday, Literacy Day; Wednesday, Promoting Healthy Children; Thursday, Children Safety and Community Helpers; and Friday, Art/Music Appreciation Day.

The SFA Early Childhood Lab is an affiliate of NAEYC, the largest organization of early childhood educators and others dedicated to improving the quality of early education programs for children birth through age 8. Founded in 1926, NAEYC has more than 80,000 members and a national network of more than 300 local, state and regional affiliates. The SFA Early Childhood Lab and the Head Start program include early childhood professionals working together to improve professional practice and working conditions in early childhood education, and to build public support for high-quality early childhood education programs.

For more information, contact the SFA Early Childhood Lab at (936) 468-4006.