Preschool: What to Do When It’s Not Available

The Advantages of Preschool

The Effective Provision of Preschool Education Project has determined preschool to be an integral aspect of developing social development. The project also showed that preschoolers have a higher tendency to become task oriented, and that they are better prepared for academic environments.

Some children from disadvantaged environments gain a benefit from preschools by getting an edge of academic and social interaction that is not always possible at home. Parents may both be working; one parent may not be living at home; and in many cases, the parent’s may not have the academic background suitable for enhancing early development.

While preschool is not a mandatory grade in most public school systems, those children that have the advantage of attending it have an even better advantage for success for the rest of their school days.

Availability of Preschool

Some preschools can be very expensive. Others can be a free extension of the public school system. You can always check with the elementary schools in your district to see what type of preschool is available to you. If the schools don’t offer them, someone there may be able to give you some good leads for available preschool programs.

Head Start and Sure Start

Since preschools can be pricey, especially for low-income people, there are some programs developed to offset the costs. Head Start and Sure Start are two examples of nationally recognized, incredible preschool programs available to people free of costs. Head Start admission is based on the parents’ income. You can do a search on-line, or you can call the schools to ask where you can inquire about this preschool program. Sure Start is the military equivalent of Head Start. Sure Start admission is usually based on military rank, rather then overall income. The drawback of Sure Start is that it is based on the military member’s rank. So, in that sense, if one spouse was a civilian making a very nice pay, but the military member was only a low ranking enlisted member, that family may get priority over a military family with one income where the military member was one rank above the well-to-do family.

Other considerations are put into the admission process of these preschools. Parents’ education, parents’ age at the time of having the child; number of siblings, and primary language spoken in the family are just a few of the other considerations that go into the admission process of the Head Start and Sure Start Programs.

Special Needs Children

If your child has a special need or a learning disability, you may qualify for free preschool. Also, if you are not sure but suspect your child may have a developmental or learning delay or disability, you may be surprised to find that there are free screening services available to you. Find out through your local Health Department, the Head Start Program, or even local public school what you can do to help your child in this instance.

Preschool is Not Available. Now What?

While the knowledge of the importance of preschool has grown, and many programs have blossomed to make this kind of education more available to everyone, preschool is not always available to everyone. In some remote military locations, preschool may not be an option in the civilian sector. Furthermore, the only available preschool programs may be filled, or may only be provided by Sure Start, which will restrict admissions by those of certain military ranks. In some locations, preschool is not public, and it may be too costly to lower middle income people who do not quite qualify for the low income programs. Sometimes, even, job schedules will hamper the ability of some parents to admit their children into a preschool program that may be offered for only a couple hours of the day.

Here are some ways to give your child some of the advantages of preschool without enrolling them in a preschool program:

-Ensure your child has the kinds of toys available in most preschools, such as blocks (math skills), crafts (dexterity), outdoor activities (large motor skills), and small items to manipulate (small motor skills, IE. writing).

-Read to your child on a regular basis. If your job keeps you from being with your child during the day, or at night, finding the time to read a story will not only give the two of you great “together” time, but will ensure your child is exposed to language.

-Take your child to the park often. On one of your off days, you can get some relaxation at the park while your child is engaging other children in a social environment and is developing well needed motor skills.

-Find other children in the area to start play groups. You can be the host, or you can alternate hosting these groups with other parents. Not only can you ensure your child is getting some social interaction, but you may be able to get a little break every other week or so. Work with the other parents to establish “rules of play” for the children.

-During playgroups, be sure to facilitate the children’s interactions by guiding them to solve social problems on their own. Solving social problems is one of the most important aspects of preschool education that gives children a better advantage later on in their education. Say things such as, “Dillian, ask Jason how you can play with him?” or, “Hmm. You both want to play with that toy. How can you both play with it?”

-Expose your child to a variety of experiences. Take her to restaurants, the store, to the bank. Many parents enjoy a little bit of a breather when they are on an errand run; however, involving your child in these activities by giving simple explanations or by giving her simple tasks will not only make the trip smooth, but will increase your child’s awareness of his or her environment.

-Enroll your child into some type of sports or art activity. While preschool may not be available, you child may be able to join some type of class, such as soccer, martial arts, drama, or crafting. What an excellent way to introduce your child to a structured setting that encourages discipline and reward!!

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