This content has been compensated as part of an Early Childhood Education promotion for Pittsburgh Public Schools. However, all opinions remain my own. #ppsafterschool
As a mostly stay-at-home parent for the better part of my daughters’ short lives (now 18 months and 3 ½ years old), I rarely (if ever) really considered any kind of “serious” preschool or early childhood education program for my girls. As an educator myself I was fairly confident that my kids were getting all they needed at home, in a wonderful environment that catered exactly to their needs.
Enter my three year old. She’ll tell you a completely different story. Lilly desperately wants to go to preschool.
Consider the choices working parents need to make in relation to care for their children during the adult work day. As opportunities arise in the career department for my own future, this is the only important question I’ve been considering lately. To begin this search, I am starting with the PPS/Early Childhood Education Afterschool Program. I’ve compiled a list of questions I will refer to as I start to gather information from different kinds of preschool programs. That way I (and you!) can organize all my thoughts better and remember the important things to our family even when elements like $ PRICE $ and separation anxiety take over my brain.
(The way I feel about sending my kids off to preschool ((i.e. away from me)) is kind of like how I felt when I was crying in home depot. Remember that story? Either way, organizing my thoughts will hopefully help keep me from, well, crying.)
My Top 10 Questions To Consider When CHOOSING A PRESCHOOL Program:
1. Why am I sending my child to preschool? (Is homeschool preschool not an option? Do you work full time? Do you need extended hours childcare or just part-time preschool? Do you want your child to start their educational experience earlier than kindergarten? Is socialization the main goal? Behavioral regulation? Learning pre-reading skills?) Outlining top goals for your child’s experience will help you narrow down a program that works for your family. The PPS program boasts strong academic, age appropriate curriculum for you child from prek-5th grade.
2. Is distance a consideration? (Must your child’s preschool be close to home? Remain in your district? Be located anywhere as long as it’s a great program?) The PPS/Early Childhood Education Afterschool Program has 5 locations throughout the district!
3. Can our family afford this preschool option? (Are there up front costs/deposits/tuition due before your child begins?) Crunch the numbers. Make sure the cost of the program you chose is actually affordable. Seems like a no-brainer but checking these details in depth ahead of time will ease your mind and aleviate stress down the road. I’ve been in the situation with “extenuating circumstances” (i.e. the premature, medically complicated birth of our daughter, Gracie) where it becomes impossible to pay for childcare arrangements. Don’t get stuck there! Check the PPS/Early Childhood Education Afterschool Program flyer for more detailed tuition/cost information.
4. Does this preschool have a clear educational philosophy? If so, what is it and is it in line with your own educational ideals? I think it is so wonderful that the PPS Program places emphasis on age appropriate activities AND special components like visits from local arts and sciences organizations. This is something so hugely important to me for my girls.
5. Do they offer a schedule that is age appropriate and stimulating for my child? I think you know by now the answer to this questions is an emphatic YES! The fact the there is real curriculum designed for each developmental stage is fantastic- kids won’t be grouped into doing things that aren’t stimulating and enriching for them.
6. Are the staff certified professionals with preschool experience? Some childcare and daycare centers can’t boast fully accredited staff during all operational hours that the facility is open. At the PPS/Early Childhood Education Afterschool Program this is never the case. All staff are certified with appropriate credentials.
7. Is there open communication with parents? How is this communication carried out? (Newsletters, online blogs/websites/facebook groups etc.) @PPSnews is already on twitter! If you are talking about progressive communication- this is where to start.
8. What makes this preschool *special* from other preschools? Visit from the Carnegie Museums and Gateway to the arts sound pretty special to me…
9. Is the staff to student ration acceptable? The PPS/Early Childhood Education Afterschool Program class size of 20 or less is great! Plenty of opportunity for social/behavioral interaction but not too many students so that any opportunity for one on one time is null and void.
10. Is the preschool program separate from regular “childcare” and does it have an interesting, creative curriculum?
*If you have been there done that with choosing a preschool or feel like you have other, important questions to ask- leave me a comment and I will add to this list!*
In researching various preschool programs, most recently the Pittsburgh Public Afterschool Program, I am hopeful that even more districts in Pennsylvania (and the broader span of the US) are going to follow suit and develop afterschool programs like this as viable options for the families residing in their areas. It just makes sense that the district your children will continue to grow into, educationally, will be the same district and educational environment as their preschool and early childhood education experience.
The Pittsburgh Public Afterschool Program is a brand new (full and part time) childcare program for prek-5th grade students that offers parents an extended hours option for quality, educationally appropriate care for their kids. I love that the program only accepts 20 children per classroom and boasts age appropriate activities and curriculum taught by certified professionals. Herein lies the difference for me: babysitting vs. extended educational experience. The special programs that will be available to these kids are great too- visits from Carnegie museums and Gateway to the Arts just to name two! We may be lucky considering not all areas have these special programs available local museums and organizations, but still, you have to admit, that is incredibly cool.
The other thing I love is the specific mention of a place for older students to work on homework or get tutoring in a structured environment. Even modeling this behavior or getting exposed to the extension of a school day outside the regular classroom is important for my own girls who are still little. I want them to love to learn, of course, but to always understand that “school” is not the only vacuumed environment in which they can learn.
If you are interested in finding out more about this particular program check out the information below for important forms and deadlines.