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Preschool education is important to Americans. So important, that in February of 2013, US President Barrack Obama said, “I propose working with states to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America… Let’s do what works, and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind. Let’s give our kids that chance.” This was written on an official government education site.
Even though resources may be limited – there may not even be enough toys – a preschool can actually successfully run with very little. It is not as if children require a whole lot of school chairs or computer desks, or other such furniture and equipment. As long as there is qualified staff and people dedicated to the cause, the kids will thrive in most preschool environments.
As it is today in America, the situation is that there are far too many children missing out on the preschool opportunity. According to this government site “doing better is more than just a moral and educational imperative, it’s smart government.” Thus all the monies spent on preschool – it has been calculated – “returns $7 through increased productivity and savings on public assistance and criminal justice.
The 2012 State Preschool Yearbook offers a real insight into what is currently going on in America’s preschools. It is filled with information on state-funded institutions for 2011-12 but also gives an overall review of the last ten years. One of the goals of this book is to form an understanding of the progress of early childhood education throughout the nation and improve educational opportunities for the country’s children.
In the 2010-11 and 2011-12 academic year, twenty-eight percent of the country’s 4-year-olds were enrolled in a state-funded preschool program. The enrollment figure has dropped by a staggering $500m across the country. It has never happened before to this extent. The results recorded in the Yearbook bring up concerns on the quality and accessibility of pre-K education for many of the country’s youngsters.
There are three main categories in the Yearbook. One is a summary of the information and description of national trends for preschool enrollment. One is a presentation of profiles of each state’s policies vis-à-vis preschool access, quality standards and resources for the academic year.
Overall, the Yearbook is a very useful tool for those involved in any part of developing preschool curricula or getting access to preschool for the nation’s children.
Preschoolers love to play pretend games. Anything with imagination is great. They do not require fancy toys or expensive games – just give them some space and they’ll find something fun to do. In fact, if there a bunch of stacking chairs in the classroom, move them to the side and open up the room for the little kids to explore their possibilities. It’s amazing what they can come with, even if there are very few toys around.
Indeed, sometimes, the less distractions, the better.
Besides which, children are naturally creative and imaginative. Even if they find an old toothbrush they can use that for play. They are very good at substituting what they have for something that they want. Just let them tap into their imaginations and wait for the magic to happen. It is amazing what they can come up with.
Indeed, as one drama teacher, Karey James noted on an education website “Creative play is the key to all learning, I find. If you allow a child to be creative and express themselves, you are spurring a deep-rooted curiosity in the world and a desire to learn all there is to learn!”
Nursery schools and preschool education started in the 20th century for a number of reasons. There was a new scientific interest at this time in early childhood and a focus on children of this age. This was caused by the blossoming of research in psychology, medicine, psychiatry and education. There was more recognition at this time that children needed guidance and that they needed it at an early stage. More women were also going into the work force, creating a need for childcare at this stage.
Today, you can find a nursery school in any community and most parents send their children around the age of three. While there are certainly programs available for younger children, three is the age when most people agree that real socialization and learning start to take place – and this has become the collectively understood time to send children on to school.
Some children send for a half day, while others send for a whole day. Some send every day and others select the every-other-day model. Whatever decision a family makes, it has to be one that will make the parents comfortable and the child happy.
If you’ve had your child at home until preschool (and even if you haven’t) it can be a daunting decision to think about your choices. What is the best school for your child and how to you ensure that you start them off on the right foot?
Here are some considerations that may help you as you make the decision for yourself and your child.
1. Play versus work: Some nursery schools see their task as helping kids to socialize and listen to rules. They emphasize play time a great deal. Other schools focus more on work, introducing letters to children sitting in school desks, asking kids to recognize numbers and such. Ask at the schools that you visit what they focus on the most and find out what the school day looks like.
2. School day length: Do you want your child in a full day program or a half day one? Do you want them to go every day or every other day? These are obviously important considerations.
3. Class size: Some schools are quite large and others are very small.
4. Religious education: Some preschools take place in churches or synagogues and have a religious component to them. You obviously have to decide for yourselves if this is something that you want.
Armed with these ideas, you should be able to find the best location for your child.