Hawthorn District 73 is developing a program that will target families of children newborn to 4-years-old.

Studies show that 80 percent of brain development happens during a child’s first three years of life, Mrs. Waggoner said. About 27 percent of Hawthorn kindergarteners are missing a literacy rich upbringing, she said.

The idea behind the newly formed NEST (Nurture Explore Speak Teach) program is to work with children not yet in school to help close the opportunity gap that can be present when they arrive to kindergarten. The program is in its fact finding research and exploration stage.

“The idea behind NEST is to have all children enter school on an even playing field,” said Katie Waggoner, Elementary North School principal and facilitator of NEST.

The challenge, however, is finding this young population and providing resources for them, Mrs. Waggoner said.

“My hope is to reach the children through existing families, area churches, hospitals and other community organizations,” Mrs. Waggoner said.