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A Heart for Preschool

Kids love, need early childhood education

A Heart for Preschool
March 2013

Kids love Preschool. They just do. Ask them. Wyatt, an area preschooler, says he likes school because he gets to spray the mist bottle. Abby likes school too because she gets to play with puppets. And Hunter, well he likes preschool because he gets to see Abby.

It may be hard for parents to believe, especially first-time parents, but many two-, three- and four-year-old tots are school ready. It can be a shock, in a good way.

Preschool may surprise you

It has been the experience of Cara Paul, director of Children's Circle Preschool of Second Presbyterian Church, that parents are frequently stunned that their kids can't wait to run in the door in the morning and sometimes even cry when they have to leave. Their independence and excitement for school is often surprising for moms and dads.

Parents should foster this bubbling affection toward learning at a time when their children are everyday growing and building their brains, and preschool is an obvious avenue for doing just that.

"Preschool is basically the building block for a child's future education. Research shows that within the first five years [of a child's life] much of the development of the brain has already occurred. Those early years are so important for these kids to exercise their brain and get ready for learning down the road," said Julie Bowman, owner of Primrose School of West Clay and at Bridgewater.

Preschool preps tots for the new kindergarten

After all, kindergarten is right around the corner and it ain't like it used to be. It isn't even what it used to be for some older siblings thanks to higher standards kids must meet. Perhaps preschool is the new old kindergarten.

"Now that Indiana has implemented the Common Core standards into kindergarten, the emphasis on curriculum is focused on language arts and math. I believe that as the curriculum changes in the public school system the expectations change as well. Each year it seems that we are refining and expanding our expectations at every grade level. Considering the higher expectations, I do believe this elevates the importance of a strong start in learning in the preschool and toddler years," said Dea Walls, owner of The Goddard School in Zionsville.

Sarah Parks, director of Day Nursery Federal Center, believes many parents don't realize the complexity of the school readiness process. "It is more than chronological age or the ability to recite numbers, letters and colors," she said. In her estimation preschool needs to help children learn to draw inferences, make predictions, problem solve, and develop independence and self-management skills.

"Children who have mastered these skills in preschool will be better prepared and will more easily learn everything they are expected to know in kindergarten. When you think about it, children who don't learn how to problem solve and get along with their peers at a young age, could face that same problem as teens and adults," said Parks.

But for kids with preschool on their resume, they will likely enter kindergarten with better pre-reading and basic math skills than children who have not been in a preschool program. They will also have learned critical social skills and will be better prepared for a tougher kindergarten experience where recess is typically under 30 minutes, attention to detail really matters and homework is business as usual.

Public preschool option comes to Indianapolis

There is more good news for preschool-bound children. There will be a public preschool option next year for families in the Indianapolis Public School district. At the time of interview, IPS did not know which elementary schools would get a preschool program, but expressed a strong commitment to the effort.

"We will serve as many students as our resources will allow and there is no question from anyone associated with the district as to the importance and value of preschool," said John Althardt, spokersperson for IPS. IPS will continue to expand the program with a sharp focus on quality for students and families.

Wherever children attend preschool, if placed in a nurturing, purposeful environment, they will be setting forth on the right academic foot.

Tags: In This Issue, Preschool

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