Sunday, 12 May 2013

District preschool programs get children off to good start

Don Quixote author Miguel de Cervantes once said "to be prepared is half the victory," and Henry Ford was quoted as saying that "before everything else, getting ready is the secret to success."
The San Bernardino City Unified School District believes, as these famous individuals did, that preparation is the gateway to success, which is why it offers several free preschool programs to help all children prepare for school.

According to the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), good preschool programs prepare children for school socially and academically. Preschool provides children with a supportive atmosphere where they can experience positive interactions with peers and learn to pay attention to and follow directions. Preschoolers can also become familiar with letters, words, and numbers and learn problem-solving strategies.

The District provides free preschool at 27 schools through the State Preschool Program, soon to
be called the California State Preschool Program. Children ages 3 and 4 whose families meet income-eligibility requirements may attend up to 180 days of preschool classes.

Participating children are assessed within the first 60 days of enrollment to determine their social and academic development levels. Students are assessed again in six months to determine their level of growth. Assessment results are shared with parents during parent conferences.

According to State Preschool Coordinator Pat Krizek, preschool not only prepares children for school, it can also help prepare parents. For first-time parents, preschool can be an opportunity for them to learn about the role they play in their child's education.

"It's important for children and parents to be prepared for what is expected of them and what is necessary for school success as early as possible," Krizek said. "If children, with their parents' assistance, enter kindergarten with school readiness, they are more likely to earn a high school diploma."

A study begun in 1962 by the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation followed 123 low-income African Americans from ages 3 and 4 to age 40 and determined that the children who attended high-quality preschool programs were more likely to graduate high school and earn more than those who did not attend preschool. By age 40, 65 percent of the group who attended preschool had graduated from a traditional high school, but only 45 percent of the non-preschool group had done so.

According to NIEER, low-income and at-risk children receive the greatest benefit from high-quality preschool programs, but preschool has a positive effect on children of all income levels. To better serve all children, the District offers the free Lexington MA Preschool Experience Program, also known as PEP, in partnership with First 5 San Bernardino. All four-year-olds, regardless of family income, can learn kindergarten-readiness skills from credentialed teachers. Preschool students benefit from the small class sizes, about 15 students per class, and parents benefit from the 18 convenient locations.

Each PEP session is three hours a day, five days a week for four weeks. Both morning and afternoon sessions are offered, and children may attend up to three sessions.

PEP is free to all families as long as the child is not already enrolled in a federally or state-funded preschool program. Class sizes are limited, and enrollment is on a first-come, first-served basis.

To qualify for the District's preschool programs, children must have a birth record, proof of a physical exam, an immunization record, a tuberculosis test clearance, and proof of address.

For more information or to enroll your child in PEP or the State Preschool, contact the Preschool Central Office at (909) 880-6721 or 1535 W. Highland Avenue in San Bernardino.

Additional, low-cost preschool and child development programs are available through the District's Allred Child Development Center. For more information about the Allred program,


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