Early Learning System

Early Learning Matters

HEA Networks provide high-quality Early Learning support for children (infant to age 8) and their families. Our goal is to provide every child in Elkhart County with a strong foundation for learning.

We equip children and families with tools to develop social, cognitive, and executive function skills. In doing so, we can ensure that every child has a strong foundation for learning, leading to success in school and life.

HEA News: Early Learning

Transformed – Investing together in education and training

By Brian WiebePresident/CEO of HEA This is the start of a new blog/vlog series entitled “Transformed,” where I’ll share my thoughts about Elkhart County’s journey toward becoming a "world-class place to live, learn, work and play," which is HEA's official vision...

ECoSistema Joins National Community Music Network

By Brian Wiebe, executive director of HEA ECoSistema (Elkhart County El Sistema) is thrilled to become an affiliate of Harmony Project National Division! This organization supports music programs nationwide in its mission of promoting academic and...

PAX Week Winners Announced!

Congratulations to the 38 classrooms representing 18 Elkhart County schools that participated in PAX Week, held February 18 to 22 during PAX Month! The purpose of PAX Month was to promote awareness of the positive benefits of including PAX in classroom teaching....


HEA Approach to Early Learning

HEA assists community partners in developing Networks and Initiatives to achieve our county’s vision for a strong foundation for every child. Each organization plays a critical role in the lives of children and families in our community.

High-Quality Early Learning Systems


  • Gr8t Beginnings
  • Parent Engagement Action Network
High-Quality Early Learning System


  • Tools of the Mind Preschools and Kindergarten
  • Self-Regulation Strategies for Preschool
  • PAX Good Behavior Game

Early Learning Challenges

In the past, our community has attempted to address educational attainment in reactive ways when it is too late. We now have the power to prevent issues early with lower costs and more significant returns.

Early Learning Solution

Early investment in young children’s development has a significant return for individual children, families, and the community. The biggest returns come from programs and policies that ensure young children are in environments that promote positive social-emotional development and are rich in opportunities for brain stimulation and growth.

“We have the tools to help our families and schools to be more nurturing. Rather than addressing each psychological, behavioral, or health problem as though it is unrelated to every other problem, we need to get all the organizations working on human well-being to band together to help make all of our families and schools more nurturing.”
– Anthony Biglan Ph.D., The Nurture Effect: How the Science of Human Behavior Can Improve Our Lives and Our World”

Indicators of Success

The goal of the Early Learning is to develop a system of high-quality opportunities for social, emotional, and cognitive development for all children from birth through 8 years old. As one of the key indicators of success, our community is working to increase the number of children who are enrolled in high-quality preschool programs and ensure that these opportunities are accessible to the children who most need them.

Community Priorities for
Foundations for Learning

  1. Each child is ready for success in kindergarten by age 5.
  2. Each child has a parent or caregiver engaged in their learning journey.
  3. All children have the skills needed for success in high school (and beyond) by the end of 8th grade.

Research Tools for Foundations for Learning

Kindergarten Readiness

HEA has developed a county assessment tool to understand children’s social-emotional and physical development skills at kindergarten entry. Local kindergarten teachers helped develop this tool by identifying skills that are most important for school success. HEA combines data from this assessment with the school existing assessments to inform early childhood efforts.

Student Engagement

Elkhart County is working towards a countywide implementation of the Gallup Poll for 5th, 8th, and 11th-grade students. The goal is to understand students’ attitudes about school and their sense of belonging. Both factors have a known effect on achievement.

Student Achievement

HEA tracks 3rd-grade reading and 5th-grade math and English language arts assessments. These tools point to areas of need and provide important indicators of future success, including high school graduation and post-secondary success.