Choosing the right Preschool program for your child is a big decision.This is the first in a serie of article to help parents make informed choice.
Understanding the different types of programs is an important first step.
Head Start is a federally funded program that promotes school readiness through high quality programming and serves children ages three to five. Priority enrollment is given to low-income families. Head Start offers comprehensive services including early childhood education, health, nutrition, parent involvement and support services to families. Head Start programs are licensed by DCFS. The majority of Head Start programs are offered half day, although some full day “slots” may be available. The traditionally follow school calendars.and most offer transportation. No fees are charged for Head Start services.
State- funded Pre-Kindergarten programs (also known as Preschool for All) brings together qualified staff, a proven curriculum and parent involvement to help prepare children for success in school. High quality PreK programs are offered in participating public and private schools and also located within some child care centers. Enrollment is open to children ages three to five and priority is given to children with the greatest need based on a number of risk factors. There are no fees charged to the family. State funded PreK programs programs are typically half day (although some full day PreK programs are now available in some communities) and follow school calendars.
Private PreK preschool programs are also an option for families. They offer similar programming but do not receive state or federal funds. These programs are part day and follow the school calendar. Fees are charged to families for participation.
Licensed Child Care Centers offers full day, full year quality programming that supports young children and their working families. Child care offers preschool and child care in one setting which is important to working parents who can't transport their child from setting to setting during the day. Child care centers are individually operated, licensed by DCFS, and most do not receive any outside funding. The state funds a Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) that helps eligible families pay their child care fees. If smaller child care settings are a better match for your child, information about licensed Family Child Care Homes and Group Homes is available through CCR&R at 1-800-548-5563.
ExceleRate Illinois is the state’s quality recognition system awarding Circle of Quality designations to programs for their efforts. The higher the awarded designation, the more each provider makes meaningful improvements to their program that better prepare children for school and life. All three types of programs listed above are eligible to participate in this voluntary system.
CCR&R at John A Logan College has trained early childhood specialists who can answer your questions about the different preschool options and provide resource lists of programs in your community.
As parents and caregivers, we can make choices to ensure time spent with our children is high-quality. Here are nine tips for busy families:
Excerpt from Tips for Spending Quality Time With Your Child Author:: Jessica Alvarado www.families.naeyc.org
Public libraries have traditionally offered early literacy programming to preschool children in the form of storytimes. Southern Illinois families are fortunate to have so many of our local libraries sponsor regularly scheduled story hours for young children and their families. In addition to being a whole lot of fun, these story hours help promote early literacy.
"Early literacy refers to what children know about reading and writing before they actually learn to read and write. It is not the teaching of reading but instead involves the building of a foundation for reading so when children are taught to read, they will be ready." (Ghoting, 2006).
Story hours also promote school readiness... "School readiness refers to a combination of the different skills that lead to school success. These include positive early literacy experiences, physical and mental health, social skills, playing well with others, as well as basic cognitive skills, curiosity and enthusiasm about learning "(Daimant-Cohen, 2007)
LIbrary story hours are FREE and open to anyone who wants to attend. Parents must remain at the library with their child(ren).
For a complete listing of story hours in southern Illinois go to. http://www.sifamilies.org/story-hours.html
When Should Kids Start Playing Sports?
As you think about signing kids up for organized sports, consider how emotionally and physically ready they are to participate. If they're too young or not ready, it will be frustrating for everyone, and can turn kids off from sports for good.
Although there are sports programs designed for preschoolers, it's not until about age 6 or 7 that most kids develop the physical skills and attention span that most sports need. Preschoolers can throw and run, but it usually takes some time before they can coordinate the two skills. And it may not be until kindergarten or first grade before kids understand the rules of the game.
That doesn't mean kids can't play sports when they're younger. Sports can be fun for toddlers and kindergartners, but these should be less about competition and more about learning skills and having fun while being active. So even if young kids inadvertently score a goal for the other team or spend the entire game chasing butterflies, as long as they're enjoying it, that's OK. If you do decide to sign your 5-year-old up for a team, be sure to choose a league that emphasizes fun and basic skills.
By the time a child reaches preschool age, he/ she will benefit from playing with others.
Playing with others close to he/her age helps a young child learn how to cooperate, problem solve and develop socially and emotionally.
Not all parents want to enroll their children in programs outside of the home. Preschool playgroups offer parents an opportunity to come together on a regular basis, socialize with one another and provide opportunities for their child to play with others close to his/her age. In southern Illinois, most playgroups are offered through community churches. Some are free and some charge a yearly or monthly fee . They each have their own schedule, focus and organizational structure. MOPS ( Mothers of Preschoolers) programs are being offered in Herrin, Marion and Murphyboro. Other play groups are being sponsored for families in Elkville and Marion. For more detailed information and to learn more about these programs go to our listing at : http://www.sifamilies.org/preschool-playgroups.html. If you know of other play groups in your community, let us know, so we can include them on our list!
Whether winter brings severe storms, light dustings or just cold temperatures, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has some valuable tips on how to keep your children safe and warm.
What to Wear
Now's the time to show your child the importance of being nice.
It's hard to know how polite a preschooler should actually be. After all, it seems like typical little-kid behavior to jump up from the dinner table the second she's gobbled down her nuggets. Or to forget to say thanks when a family friend comes over and brings her an unexpected present.
"While it's normal for preschoolers to still be self-centered, teaching manners reminds them that other people in the world matter and deserve respect," says Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Temple University, in Philadelphia. Fortunately, this is a great age to teach social graces because your child is naturally eager to please you. To develop his sense of decorum, start working on these habits now.
Best Behavior: Be Kind
In preschool and on the playground, taking turns, sharing, and being friendly to other kids is the law of the land.
Make it Happen: Point out other people exhibiting the behaviors you'd like to see in your kid, says Jodi Stoner, Ph.D., a clinical psychotherapist and coauthor of Good Manners Are Contagious. If you make your child aware of others doing sweet deeds, he'll begin to identify with the actions you're showing him.
Kids this age are still possessive, so encouraging your child to share may be difficult. It can take time for him to understand that he may feel uncomfortable while someone else plays with his toy, so be sympathetic. And be enthusiastic when your kid offers a toy to someone or gives her a turn on his scooter. Your child may care more about getting praise from you than about the toy anyway.
What's Too Scary?
As Halloween approaches, Marilou Hyson, PhD, former associate executive director at NAEYC, talks about young children’s fears. Much of Marilou’s research and writing has focused on early childhood emotional development.
What is too scary for children at different ages?Each child is different, so it’s difficult to give hard and fast rules about what may be overwhelming for all children at different ages. The most important thing a grownup can do is to know an individual child and watch for her reactions to potentially scary images and situations. Pay attention to what she seems very worried about, avoids, or talks about, which can be clues that something is scary. Parents are often surprised by what frightens their child.
Our grandson Sam, who’s 13 now, was really frightened at the age of 2 by a life-size sculpture of a moose at an outdoor exhibit. We rounded a corner on a trail and there it was! Sam was visibly scared, staring and rigid, and he wanted to get out of there as fast as he could. When we got home, he pored over the map of the exhibit and recalled each sculpture, but when he got to the moose, he said, "We sip [skip], okay?" and went on to the next one.
Why is there a tradition of scary characters in books for young children?Many of those stories are traditional fairy tales or legends that originally were created for adults--certainly not for very young children. Grimm’s and Andersen's fairy tales are often very frightening, even for older children. The characters and events in many of these stories tap into some of our deepest childhood fears, such as losing our parents or having someone familiar change into a threatening stranger. Young children have a hard time distinguishing between a change in a person’s appearance and a change in who they really are underneath. For example, when a parent becomes very angry, a young child may wonder, Is that my same mom or is it really someone different? The answers are not clear-cut to young children.
Why do some children find it fun to be scared just a little?It's different for each child. When a child plays peekaboo of sorts with something he finds scary, it’s great for her to feel she can manage her fear. Mom puts on a mask (but not a terrifying one) and takes it off, or the child does so herself. The child peeks around the corner at a sort of scary Halloween display, but only from a distance. It's important that adults not make fun of children's fears no matter how irrational they seem. And saying “There is nothing to be afraid of” is not real persuasive to a young child.
This speaks to the development of emotion regulation. Gradually, especially within warm relationships and with our support, children begin to be able to manage their emotional reactions to various situations (including Halloween stuff). Adult support could be talking or drawing about what the child is scared of or worried about, helping him or her know what to expect (for example, at a Halloween party), or using puppets to act out a story in which a child is a little bit scared of something and then figures out how to deal with it. There are children’s picture books with that kind of theme as well.
Sometimes parents think it’s their job to remove all stress from children’s lives, but the truth is that, with our support, small bits of stress (child-size bits) are important sources of positive development, as children broaden their toolkit of coping strategies.
Any special tips about handling fears related to Halloween?Halloween has become a kind of adult holiday (which was not at all true a few generations ago), and with adults and teens dressing up as figures from horror movies and going to extremes to scare other adults (a harder task than scaring a little kid), we need to make sure there is a firm line against violent/bloody/gory and generally horrific images. Not just because they are "too scary" but because they do not represent the values or images that we want our children to be exposed to.
Pretend play is children's main way of making sense of their world. Through play, children can master fears and difficult experiences by reinventing them in a playful way. If Halloween can be another opportunity for children to engage in well-supported pretend play, then it has the potential to support children’s development.
here to edit.
If your child is starting preschool and having difficulty with the new routine, follow these strategies for saying goodbye without tears.
By Ronnie Koenig
The start of preschool is a milestone that's often anticipated with great excitement and joy, but also with lots of crying, uncertainty, and heel digging -- from both kids and parents! "For children, the main source of anxiety around entering preschool is that they have absolutely no idea what to expect," says Katrina Green, a certified early childhood and early childhood special education teacher at the Just Wee Two program in Brooklyn, New York. "They have spent the first three to four years learning the rules and routines of their family life and they are completely unfamiliar with the new rules and routines they will encounter. For parents, the main source of separation anxiety is worrying that their child will feel abandoned." Read on to learn the best ways for you and your child to ease the separation anxiety and to successfully start this new adventure -- together and apart!
Many moms may see their child have a bad first reaction to preschool and immediately decide to pull him out of the classroom. But that's a bad idea: "It denies the child an opportunity to learn how to work through negative feelings and sets a precedent of not having to face problems," Green says. Instead, consistency is key when it comes to making preschool a part of your child's new routine. Simply going together on a regular basis will provide your little one with a strong sense of anticipation. Keep your goodbyes short and sweet so that your child knows what to expect but doesn't prolong your departure. When you pick him up at the end of the day, reinforce the idea that you came back, just like you said you would. This way, each day's drop-off won't feel like you're both starting teary and upsetting goodbyes all over again.
Parents often hear of the importance of play in preschool. But playing with dolls and blocks seems to have little to do with the academic knowledge that children will need to succeed in kindergarten. So why is it so important? Play is the foundation for all learning for young children, and giving your child the time and a few basic toys can provide her with a variety of valuable learning opportunities. “Play is how children begin to understand and process their world,” says Angie Rupan, Program Coordinator for Child Development Center in South San Francisco, CA and early childhood educator for over 20 years. “Children's play unlocks their creativity and imagination, and develops reading, thinking, and problem solving skills as well as further develops motor skills. It provides the base foundation for learning.”
Why is play so important and what do preschoolers learn when they play? Try a few of these simple ideas with items you have around your house and learn about the educational benefits that each can provide for your child.
Language and Vocabulary Development When playing with other children or adults, vocabulary and language skills are fostered. Your child will listen and learn the language she hears without even realizing. Children will learn to use language to communicate meaning as well as picking up new words and hearing the grammatical structure of the English language.
Vehicles and Animals.
Playing with cars, trucks and trains as well as animals provides for many new vocabulary words as children learn the names of each, what they do, what they eat or where you can find them. Additionally, children and adults can create all kinds of scenarios that the vehicles or animals might find themselves in, providing for further language and vocabulary development.
Dollhouse and Dolls.
with a dollhouse or dolls allows your child to reenact what happens in her everyday life, using the words and phrases she hears. You are likely to hear your own words come out of her mouth as she recreates events that have happened, perhaps with an outcome more suited to her liking!
Imagination and Creativity
In our fast paced and high tech society, children have fewer and fewer opportunities to use and develop their creativity. Children who are not given frequent opportunities to play may have a difficult time entertaining themselves as they simply do not know what to do without instruction. By providing opportunities for open ended play, your child will automatically get her creative juices flowing, and the possibilities are endless.
Dramatic Play. provide a few props such as dishes and play food, empty food boxes and a cash register or stuffed animals and a doctor’s kit, and your child will be transported into a different place! Watch and be amazed at what she will come up with as she plays.
Craft Supplies. Without a specific project complete, provide your child with a variety of craft supplies such as markers and crayons, scraps of fabric or paper, empty boxes or containers, glue, buttons and stickers. Allow her to create anything she likes and watch her inner artist emerge!
Problem Solving and Mathematics Children can solve complex problems that arise as they play and learn a few mathematical principals as well. Blocks and puzzles are excellent “basics” to provide your child with many opportunities to foster these important skills.
Playing with blocks provides for many problem solving scenarios. How can we make it balance? How tall can we make this tower? Can we build a castle? Children also learn some basic math concepts with the various shapes and sizes of the blocks.
When trying to make puzzle pieces fit, children are gaining important math and problem solving experience. Learning a bit about sizes (is the piece too big for that spot?) and shapes (does the shape of the piece look the same as the hole?) You can encourage this learning by engaging in conversations as your child plays. Your child will also gain an important sense of accomplishment as her practice leads to a completed puzzle in the end.
Gross and Fine Motor Development Gross motor skills involve the large muscles of the legs and arms while fine motor development is building the muscles of the hands that will be used for writing. Play can provide many opportunities to work on strengthening these muscles without your child even being aware of it!
Stringing Beads and Lacing.
Giving children beads and plastic tipped laces provide a fun way to work on fine muscle control. Your child can create a beautiful necklace while strengthening the fine motor muscles. Lacing cards or child safe needles and burlap will also provide fun “sewing” projects for young children.
Balls and Balance Beams.
Kicking balls and walking on balance beams can help your child become more coordinated. Get outside and kick a ball around, create a goal area to make it a game. Anytime you see a narrow brick wall or wooden plank, give your child some assisted practice at balancing. Gather up the toys you have around the house and make it a point to provide ample time for play. Playing around with your child is sure to provide many wonderful childhood memories and reap some great educational benefits as well!