Tags: School/Education, Preschool
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October 01, 2011
Research has shown that Preschool isn't just fun and games for children. Quality programs can provide a lifetime of benefits. A recent University of Minnesota study found children who attended Preschool had higher education levels and higher incomes later in life. Choosing the right program now can pay off later and there are many programs to choose from.
Public schools are the biggest early childhood educators in the area. The Cincinnati Public School District has about 1,500 Preschool students with traditional, magnet and classes for children with disabilities. Northwest Local School District has an entire building, the Houston Early Learning Center, that is dedicated to educating Preschoolers. Principal Barb Hill said each classroom features computers and iPads. Lakota Local, Oak Hills Local and Milford Exempted Village schools also have Preschool programs.
Church Preschools offer academics and religion lessons. The Pleasant Ridge Presbyterian Nursery School has been recognized by the state of Ohio for early education. Director Megan Sprigg said, "All of our curriculum is rooted in what is most meaningful to the child and building upon what each individual already knows, so children are able to progress at their own pace." Montgomery Community Church Preschool also boasts state recognition for meeting strict staffing and curriculum standards. All of its teachers have a bachelors or masters degree.
In Kentucky, the Gloria Dei Preschool in Crestview Hills offers a slightly longer school day to give parents more flexibility and children more time to interact. Director Deb Bechtol said their program is unique because students rotate from classroom to classroom to experience different learning centers. There are also weekly Spanish and Bible lessons.
When it comes to private Preschools, parents often look for schools that have received national and local recognition. The Goddard School in Crestview Hills boasts accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Only 8 percent of all schools nationally achieve such recognition. KinderCare in Anderson Township and the Gingerbread Academy in Blue Ash are also NAEYC accredited.
AdvancED is another accreditation program that evaluates schools and universities based on strict standards. Primrose Schools in West Chester and Mason are AdvancEd accredited, and winning a local parenting award for early education is the Gardner School of Blue Ash.
When Amber Lierl of Loveland started searching for a Preschool for her son Jacob, she was concerned about her son's shyness and how he would transition. Lierl decided a cooperative Preschool – or co-op – was the best bet. Co-op parents help in the classroom a few days each month. Lierl chose Loveland Tender Years. Tracy Anastasia is the board president there and said, "Our children get extra time with mommy and daddy, and they also learn that education is important to their family." The parental "workforce" also helps keep tuition down.
Another option is the Jewish Early Learning Cooperative in Clifton. Unlike some co-ops, it's open to children from 3 months – 4 years (regardless of religion), and it's open year-round with an all-day program.
Montessori education is a popular Preschool choice. These schools follow the philosophy that children teach themselves while teachers provide an appropriate learning environment. Pat Elder, head of the Montessori Academy of Cincinnati, said Montessori fosters independence and higher self-esteem. The Mason school has two campuses. One serves infants through two years. The second serves kids from age 3 through 8th grade. The Montessori Center Room in the East End also has a Preschool program.
If you're not ready to commit to Preschool, a Parent's Day Out program might be a better choice. They give parents a little bit of free time during the week and allow children a chance to interact with peers. Jessica Davis is the PDO director at Cornerstone United Methodist Church in Liberty Township. She said it's a win-win for parents and children. It's open to anyone in the community during the school year. Other PDO programs include Wee Three Kings of Loveland with a program for 18-36 month-olds, and King of Kings Lutheran Church in Mason. It offers a once a week Mom's Day out program for 2-2 ˝ year olds. Older children can then transition to the church's Preschool.
There are ways to engage your Preschooler outside of a classroom setting. The Duke Energy Children's Museum at the Museum Center offers story hours and art classes, and the Cincinnati Zoo has a new Preschool animal encounter program. Local libraries offer story times, and some libraries have AWE Early Literacy Stations. These computers have kid-friendly keyboards, touch screens and more than 100 learning applications for children. Look for them at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County branches and at the Erlanger and Durr libraries in Kenton County.
Whatever you choose, keeping your Preschooler engaged and learning lays the groundwork for a love of learning that will follow them as they grow.
Amy Holtzman is a writer, producer and mom of three living in Northern Kentucky and is a graduate of Xavier University, Class of '92.