There are many benefits of early education in preschool programs because the most important growth and development in the brain happens by the age of five. The early years are the learning years and a child’s ability to be attentive and to follow directions emerges in those early years.

Structured early learning fosters these abilities for later success in school and in life. Preschool prepares children to be ready for school because children who participate in high-quality early childhood education programs develop better language skills, score higher in school-readiness tests and have better social skills and fewer behavioral problems once they enter elementary school. They are also better prepared for Kindergarten, especially in the areas of pre-reading, pre-math and social skills.

Children’s early experiences – the bonds they form with their parents and their first learning experiences – deeply affect their future physical, cognitive, emotional and social development. Optimizing the early years of children’s lives is the best investment we can make as a society in ensuring their future success.

“We are at a really critical moment for pre-K in the United States,” said Suzanne Bouffard, an education researcher and author of the newly published book The Most Important Year: Pre-Kindergarten and the Future of Our Children. In 2016, enrollment in state-funded preschool programs reached an all-time high of nearly 1.5 million children in 43 states.

While Bouffard applauds the momentum to make pre-K more accessible, she said policy makers are not paying enough attention to what is happening in these classrooms.

“We need to look at how we do pre-K, not just whether we do it,” said Bouffard. Without this vision, not only will students be poorly served, lawmakers may ultimately say, “Well, we tried that, we funded it, and it didn’t work.  Quality really matters.”

She argues that many parents and lawmakers don’t know what to look for in a pre-K classroom — and that even elementary school administrators may not be well-versed in the distinct needs of this developmental age.

When Bouffard talks to parents, she tells them, “The most important things to look for is how the adults interact with children. You want to see them engage with children in a way that is positive, nurturing and genuinely curious.”

In fact, according to her research, the best pre-K programs are staffed by trained teachers who know how to build students’ self-regulation skills; nurture their creativity and curiosity; and foster an environment of playful learning.

The curriculum we will use at Youth Village is called Big Day for Pre-K.  This curriculum encompasses all materials that our teachers will need to provide quality and comprehensive education to our students.  These materials include lesson plans that integrate social-emotional development, physical development, literacy, science, math, and the arts to our classrooms.  It also includes many of the materials needed to provide the lessons to the students, such as theme-based literature, virtual learning activities, and hands-on manipulatives to help extend the lessons.  Big Day for Pre-K also provides materials to allow teachers to communicate with parents easily and effectively.

These items will include The Best Children’s Literature and Nonfiction texts: the program surrounds children with a diverse collection of authentic literature and nonfiction: big books, lap books, little books, eBooks, video storybooks, audiobooks, take‐home books, and downloadable books.

We have multiple assessment tools that we will use to monitor progress towards the impact on the children and their education.  Big Day for Pre-K provides formal and informal assessment tools that will help teachers monitor the children’s progress throughout the year.  The formal assessment tool that will be used is a one-on-one “test” that will be administered to each child at the beginning, middle, and end of the school year.  This tool monitor progress in oral language development, phonological awareness, alphabet knowledge, mathematics, and social-emotional development.  The informal assessment tools include checklists, observation tools, and records that teachers can implement throughout the day to help evaluate the children’s knowledge and understanding about a particular area and allow them to adjust their approach as needed.  This allows the teachers to differentiate their instruction based on the needs of individual children as well as their classroom as a whole.  This will also allow teachers to assure that the children are meeting the Florida Early Learning and Developmental Standards adopted by the Florida Office of Early Learning in 2017 that reflect the knowledge and skills that the children should have at the end of the school year.

At Youth Village, we KNOW that high-quality early learning provides children with a foundation for success and THAT is our goal!

Written by Nellie Bogar CEO/Founder