Ensuring a child is ready for Kindergarten – and school in general – starts long before Kindergarten registration gets underway.
The earlier your child is immersed in activities and environments that help them learn new skills, develop socially, and think of learning as fun, the more likely they are to have a successful start to Kindergarten.Enrolling children in preschool is a great way to prepare children and ready them for Kindergarten.
We talked to Crystal Francis, Director of Early Learning at Baltimore City Public Schools, about when and why to consider preschool programs – and some of the features of Baltimore City Public School programs.
Q: When should caregivers consider entering their child into a preschool program?
A: Typically, children are eligible for Baltimore City Public School preschool programs if they will turn four by September 1 of the school year. However, there are options for children that are younger than four years old. We encourage all parents and caregivers to consider enrolling their child in a preschool program – the benefits are astounding and give our youngest learners a great foundation to be successful in both school and life.
Q: What are the benefits of enrolling my child in a preschool program?
A: From birth to about age six, children’s brains develop at a faster pace than at any other time in life. Parents and caregivers play essential roles as their children’s first teachers during this stage and provides important learning opportunities. However, high-quality, formal early education is important to providing a strong foundation for overall school success. Preschool programs provide children with opportunities to build important academic skills, and to develop equally important social and emotional skills, including self-esteem, independence, self-regulation, and the ability to share and interact with other children.
Q: How do preschool programs differ from other childcare programs?
A: Preschool programs refer to early-childhood educational programs for three and four year olds. Preschools offer teaching and learning designed to provide learning experiences that help children develop and maintain the skills, knowledge, and behaviors necessary to be successful in school. Childcare programs often provide wonderful learning opportunities but are not designed to fulfill such learning outcomes.
Q: What will my child learn in preschool?
A: Your child will learn a variety of skills in preschool that prepare them for Kindergarten and beyond. There are 8 major areas that a formal Pre-K program focuses on, including language and literacy, mathematics, social studies, science, healthy, physical education, fine arts, and social foundations. Some of the skills you might expect a child to obtain in a preschool setting include learning how to make personal choices and share with peers. They’ll develop early reading skills, build comprehension skills, learn and use new vocabulary words, and ask and respond to open-ended questions. They’ll begin writing letters and words and build early writing skills through activities like labeling a picture or illustrating a story. They’ll learn math and science skills – for instance, they’ll begin to recognize and understand some numbers, identify shapes, take measurements and more. They’ll learn about the arts as they experiment with a variety of materials, express ideas through music, dance, and performance, and draw from observation. They’ll learn to dress independently, develop muscle groups through physical activity, and start understanding the connection between healthy eating and a healthy body. There’s lots more that they’ll learn – but that provides a bit of an idea of some of the things our preschool programs are designed to teach, and that our students leave class understanding.
Q: What are some of the features of Baltimore City Public School preschool programs?
A: Baltimore City Public School preschools offer free, full-day programming, certified teachers, high-quality, play-based learning, free breakfast, lunch and snacks, and caring and supportive environments. They also offer an opportunity for children to develop social and emotional connections – and to meet new friends from their neighborhood!
Q: Are there other options for preschool beyond what Baltimore City Public School offers? What should I look for?
Absolutely. Baltimore City Public Schools provide children with wonderful learning opportunities, but we encourage parents and caregivers to research and find options that work the best for their situations and child. Some tips for looking for a preschool include finding a location and schedule that fits your needs, and ensuring that the school is state-licensed. State licensed facilities meet safety and staffing requirements. We also encourage caregivers to talk to the preschool staff and families who attend the preschool – and to schedule a visit.