“At what age should I enroll my children in school? Why are we pushing our children at such an early age? I just want my children to be children. Will Pre-K really prepare them for Kindergarten?” These are all questions that parents ask themselves as their children start approaching school age. Parents have to face the decision about whether or not to send their children to pre-k before kindergarten, or if they will just send them to kindergarten. Some parents do not realize just how important early childhood education is.
Early Childhood Education begins at birth. The first stage, birth to age three, focuses on skill development, which includes tasks such as sitting, walking, feeding themselves, toilet training, and enough hand-eye coordination to throw a ball. The next stage is age three to five. At this stage, students begin to develop fine motor skills, such as having control of pencils, crayons, and scissors. They also develop gross motor skills such as skipping and balancing. At this age, a student can begin preschool. The next stage is age five to eight. At this stage, body proportions and motor skills become more refined. At this age, a child is in kindergarten – second grade.
In America, when a child turns three, parents have to start making decisions about preschool. If a parent decides to send their three-year old to preschool, they have several options. The first option is Head Start. Head Start is a federal program that promotes the school readiness of children age birth to five from low-income families by enhancing their cognitive, social, and emotional development. The second option is a church or privately run preschool where parents have to pay each month. Most three-year old preschools focus on social and emotional development. They teach students how to interact appropriately with peers in a school setting.
The next step is four-year old Kindergarten. Here, parents still have the options of Head Start or church/privately run preschools, but also have the option of a public school program. Through different funding, many public schools have started offering four-year old preschools. In my district, the four-year old program is funded through Title 1. Title funds are awarded to schools based on the number of students that receive free and reduced meals at school. There are three title funded pre-k classrooms in my district, which are free for families. In order to be placed in these classrooms, families must meet certain criteria such as low income or a low score on the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT). We also offer a paid class for families that do not meet the criteria for the free class. In this class, families pay $175.00 a month.
Many preschools, like Head Start, are socially based. In our district, our pre-k is academically based. We go by the Common Core Early Learning Standards for classrooms serving four-year old children. The pre-k Common Core standards are very similar to...