School district’s new preschool program will have big effect
Christmas came early this week to all 4-year-olds in USD 257 who are now able to attend a licensed preschool at no cost to their families thanks to a $140,000 state grant.
Educators view the pre-kindergarten program as essential to providing children the academic and social skills necessary to begin a formal education.
In our view, you can’t start learning soon enough, and that one’s income is a determinant to those opportunities is a crying shame.
From infancy, children thrive on attention. Their developing brains are sponges for sights and sounds, tastes and touch. Some parents even go so far as to read or play music to their children while still in the womb. Can’t hurt.
But what has been proven is that the earlier children are read to, the bigger their vocabularies; the sooner they engage with their peers, the better they relate in a classroom setting; and the earlier they are exposed to a variety of subjects, the more curious they are as youths who then view the sky as their limit in charting their course of careers.
In contrast, the more limited a person’s educational experiences, the fewer choices she will have in today’s working world, limiting her earning power.
UP UNTIL now, the school district has offered pre-kindergarten to low-income families or those whose children have special needs. The grant opens the door to all families, no matter their financial circumstances. A big perk is that the school district will provide transportation from area daycare facilities to the three participating preschools: McKinley Elementary for those with special needs or who meet income criteria; Munchkinland and More, and Ready Set Learn. USD 257 teachers will be at each site to lead the four-hour sessions in the mornings or afternoons.
The extended program is expected to reach more than 60 little ones who have had no exposure to a structured environment.
A common complaint among kindergarten teachers is the wide range of preparedness of incoming students. Some know their letters and numbers, while others have not an inkling. Some know how to follow directions, while others have no clue as to what is expected of them in the classroom.
Unfortunately, those who start behind often stay behind.
RAISING THE bar is what leads to the success.
When we expect our children to do well, they up their game.
It’s also our responsibility to give them the necessary tools in terms of good programs, teachers and facilities.
This is a step in the right direction.
Hats off to USD 257.
— Susan Lynn