Pre-K in Public School

krisb_tx8April 15, 2002

My son will be 4 in July and right now he goes to private school for 3 yrs. old kids. There is a public school in our subdivision and has pre-K. I called this morning tried to enroll him there. But to my surprise the school told me the kids have to come from low income family and English is second language. Is this same in other public schools in US? I just think it's unfair and discriminative. We paid our taxes but cannot send our kid there. What do you think of this?

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I think there should be publicly-provided pre-k for all kids. But you would be paying much more than just the taxes you are paying now, to make that available. That would mean increasing the funds that go to public schools by nearly 8% - from 13 years to 14 years of school. I think it would be worth it, but I guess not everyone does. As the baby boomers get older, and no longer have kids in school, schools are going to get less and less support from voters, so I don't think it will happen anytime soon.

I do think that it is a reasonable investment for the country to pay for Head Start programs for low-income ESL kids. It will help those kids get up to the level that native English speakers are already at, so they can participate when they get to grade school and won't be a drain on school resources. And low-income kids are more at risk for become behavior problems as they get older, and eventually, more at risk for becoming criminals. Giving them extra education when they are young, if it helps, can reduce crime and justice costs to society. Head Start programs are a terrific investment for the government to make, and have been proven effective many times.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2002 at 3:07AM
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Here, there are official, government-funded 'Pre-K' programs for 4-something toddlers. The public schools also offer a similar program for 4-somethings, but it's not associated with the government pre-K. My DD is in private preschool, and I'm going to leave her there until she's ready for KG.

Advantage to her private preschool program for me, is the freedom to teach religious study, which is banned in any govermentally-funded program.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2002 at 8:06AM
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The situation is the same here as Krisb describes. There are some public preschools available, but only to disadvantaged children. There has to be low income, low English skills, or learning disability. Thankfully, my son does not qualify.

I have mixed feelings about it. I'd like to see preschool provided for all kids. But until that is in the funds, I'm glad that it is at least provided for the most at risk children.

And, let me figure out how to say this without sounding like a snob but still be honest... Even if public preK were opened to all kids tomorrow, I would not send my child right away. I think there would be a transitional time when the students base is still mostly disadvantaged. Private preK being more affordable than private elem, and so many parents needing full day childcare, I think many parents would still choose private preK. There would be a transitional time when the public preK are still serving primarily disadvantaged students even though all are allowed. A child without special needs would not be best served in that environment.

Before we moved, my son attended a private preschool, not religiously affiliated. But it was expensive, so I only sent him 2 days a week. Still, I know he got a lot out of those 2 days. Unlike TREKaren, I do not want a religious school, I'll take care of those lessons. It is hard to find a preschool that is not a daycare and not part of a church. When we moved, I wasn't sure I would find one who could take him mid-year. I ended up enrolling him the the preschool at the local state university, it is part of their early childhood education degree program. Supervised by a degreed, certified teacher, most of his teachers are students finishing a 4 yr degree. Since his teachers are not paid, but actually pay tuition and teach to fulfill their requirements, it is a BARGAIN! I lucked out getting him a spot when another student moved away. They have two programs, one head start with the disadvantaged criteria, one that is open to anyone. It's an option a lot of people don't think about.. maybe there is a program like that near you. It's almost public, mostly supported by the public university, with a minimal tuition to parents.

Maybe that is where the solution to public preK lies, in the universities... hmmm.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2002 at 11:17AM
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From your comments, you seem to think I implied that I was letting someone else do the religious education of my child. That is not the case.

I simply don't like the restriction on religious freedom that is mandatory with govermentally-funded programs. So as long as I can afford it, I'll keep her in private preschool.

The only non-religious private schools in our area have long waiting lists, where you are bumped by legacies. Even when there are openings to non-legacies, the child has to go through review processes, scholastic and psychological testing, has to gather references, and then is ranked with other children who are also waiting for an opening.

My friend just went thru this process with her child (and failed to get a spot), and I don't want that at all. The great thing about Christian private schools is that, if they have an opening, it's yours as long as you can afford it.

Our family prays together, attends worship together, practices values together, and eats meals at the table together, so our DD gets plenty of religious training in our family.

Attending christian private schools does not always equate with a parent abdicating this responsiblity.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2002 at 11:41AM
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I don't think she meant that, Karen. I just think she meant that maybe the way religion is taught in schools doesn't necessarily fit with her concept of it; or that it was frustrating to try to find a non-religious preschool. I really don't think she meant anything negative about your choice to use religious schooling.
When we talk about religion in schools, I think that no matter what side of the issue anyone is on, all of us feel like we are on the defensive, because it is such a sensitive issue.

Anyway, though, I was wondering what state you are in that they provide public preschool, Karen?

I think that the amount of money that parents would save on daycare if there was nationwide public preschool would be a huge economic stimulus - those are mostly young families and they would probably spend the money on consumer goods and housing. Plus, the government would collect more income taxes because they wouldn't have to provide so many childcare tax deductions. And, I think a lot of kids who basically attend daycare instead of preschool would benefit from having trained, educated teachers and structured classes, and would do better as they advanced in school.

Stephanie - I think a lot of universities designate their childcare facilities for the children of university employees and students. You are lucky that your child got in, because from what I have seen they are usually excellent programs.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2002 at 1:58PM
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When she said, "Unlike TREKaren, I do not want a religious school, I'll take care of those lessons." it sure sounded like I didn't want to take care of that part of my child's upbringing.

I'm in GA, and the public schools have pre-K programs. And the private day-cares that have government-funded pre-K only have age requirements, not race or income policies.

Here is an info site on the way it is run in Georgia. According to this, it is managed on a first-come, first-serve basis, as long as the child is 4 years of age on Sept. 1.

Here is a link that might be useful: Eligibility in Georgia for pre-K.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2002 at 2:24PM
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I think the public schools have enough of a problem providing a quality education for 5-18 year olds. Let's not add more until we fix what is wrong with our existing programs. In my area there are a variety of religious, and non religious preschool programs. There are full day, half day and extended day programs and 2,3,4 and 5 day programs. In short, parents seem to be able to find a program to meet their family's needs. The biggest complaint from most parents is cost.

I think it is worth the investment to provide a preschool environment to kids who may wind up behind in some way. It will pay off in less money spent later when those kids need intensive remedial programs.


    Bookmark   April 16, 2002 at 3:50PM
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TREKaren, I really meant no offense. Actually, I assume that if a parent takes the time to deliberately seek out a religious school of their faith, that education is a supplement to what is taught at home, not a replacement for it. That is really true for everything our children learn at school, it adds to what we teach them at home. I do not question your committment to your child's religious teaching at all.

Like Anita said, I just know that my concept of faith is going to contradict what is taught in a church-affiliated private school. I don't want to put my kids in the uncomfortable position of being a minority in the school, or confuse them, so I prefer schools without faith instruction. I realize that my perspective puts me in a minority, that is all I meant. Not just unlike you, but probably unlike most people, I deliberately avoid church affiliated schools, making the search for a preschool that much more limited. I know there are some excellent programs in churches, but each parent find what is the right choice for their child.

I hope that clears it up. I do try to respect everyone's choices and opinions, on this forum and in life. So I absolutely meant no disrespect to you. I'm sorry if my choice of words was unclear the first time.

I've known private preschools and KG programs that required that sort of testing you mentioned, both religious and non-religious. The one my son attended was not like that, it was first come first serve. But they had a lot of expenses involved with providing a high quality program, so it was expensive. It was a unique school, started as a small business by a teacher and mother who saw a need and opened a school to fill that need. First with 15 students, then 30, then 90, then added early elementary. There was a waiting list, so I know when we moved another parent was made very happy. But getting in was first come first serve, with registration accepted no more than 6 months before the session started each year. So you just had to sign up the first day she accepted registration. The teacher herself had a disabled child and was adament about not putting children through testing. I think her school was a one of a kind thing, it was very special.

I do like the university program, though. They do have to keep it very small, so it was lucky they had a spot. Since the student teachers are graded on their classroom performance, they try very hard. My son loves the attention from young adults, each teacher is assigned a child they must observe, follow their progress, make a portfolio, etc. It is a good opportunity for both the preschool students and the college students. It seems there must be some way to expand those kinds of programs so that even more preschool children can be served. I don't know, havent' thought it all out, but is seems there is a resource there that is not being used to its fullest.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2002 at 4:23PM
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At my oldest son's public school, there is a preschool. Only children with physical handicaps are eligible. I found out that they take "typical" kids as peer models. I may consider this for my 3rd son when he turns 4 - the teacher told me they are always looking for peer models.

Call the school and ask about peer models. It seems as if it's an ESL school, they would want some kids as peer models in the class to model language skills.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2002 at 4:42PM
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My middle and older son would have flunked peer model. He was a pistol, and is now a shy, quiet young man.

Ideally, every child would attend preschool. However, if it is offered universally by our public schools, we would certainly be increasing our taxes for real estate, buildings, teachers and staff, as menitoned above. I am sure the limited programs mentioned here are funded with private and government funded grants for special needs students. Our schools have programs meant for special needs kids as well as regular programs that we provide as space is available--as well as funding. We provide deaf and hard of hearing pre school, cochlear implant pre school, special ed pre school, ESL-at risk kids pre school, Mommy and Me "pre-school," and regular pre-school. If we had our druthers, we would offer preschool to all interested students and their parents, but funding and space is just not there. So we do what we can.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2002 at 6:17PM
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I like the Abeka program for Preschool. It is a strong program in teaching phonics, number recognition, letter recognition, counting, about science, working on motor skills such as learning to use the scissors, and learning to print letters, sharing, manners, and of course Biblical teachings and verses.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2002 at 6:40PM
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Is there another program you like that is non-religious? We are not Christian (not anti Christian, just not Christian) and will not be sending our child to a Christian school. I am curious whether you are familiar with non-religious curriculum.


    Bookmark   April 17, 2002 at 9:43AM
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Well I am fammilar with non-Christian cirriculum both of my children graduated From Public School!!Also they went to Grammar school at a Non-Christian public school. I would not really say it was totally non-Christian as they had Christmas programs with the children singing Christmas songs. My entire family is Christian, and I know that Christian values are what this country from formed on.

But yes I am very familar with regular Public school cirriculums, very familar. You can read how sometimes I was not very pleased with some of the teachers either.
My children went to Public colleges?????????
I don't know what you meant by your remark?
The Abeka program for private schools is very good.
I never said Public education was bad.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2002 at 9:19PM
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By the way my daughter teachers at a Public School.
My children did attend Abeka Kindergarten and my daughter 1st grade Christian school. If you are wondering if I have- tunnelvision- and just know Only about Christian schools, you are very wrong!!

    Bookmark   April 17, 2002 at 9:23PM
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No no no. That's not what I meant. I actually meant the opposite. You seem knowledgable (not at all tunnelvision). I guess that is the limiation of the written word.

What I meant was "Do you know what the good non-Christian curricula are?" Could you tell me so I can evaluate the curriculum in my child's school. Looking for the benefit of your wisdom, not to tear you down.

So sorry.


    Bookmark   April 18, 2002 at 7:43AM
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We are not all that unalike! The kids spend a lot of time at their educational institution, and it is important that we, as parents, try to find an institution that has values similar to, or that won't conflict with, our own values. And where the parents of the other children have some of the same values.

That's not always possible to satisfy, though, in the limitations of school choices in some cities. I just got lucky to find a preschool that is quality, and that also closely matches the values we want our child to learn. Sometimes we want to move to be closer to family, but we feel so lucky with the schools in our neighborhood, we are hesitant.

Sorry I took your comment personally. I usually don't take things written in the forum out of context because it is not always easy to truly 'get' what people mean in the typewritten word. But it is sometimes all too easy to 'read into' what people say with our own inflections.


    Bookmark   April 18, 2002 at 7:58AM
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As far as Pre-K curriculum books go, I have actually seen some very good ones (It looked that way) In Teacher's supply stores. Also some Kindergarten Curriculum books. Some schools have certain requirements as to what subjects these teacher are suppose to cover.

As far as curriculums for grade school, usually the teacher has her books (the teacher's edition of the child's textbook)and experience from each year she/he teacher that she draws from, at least in Public schools. She saves this material usually and adds other interesting items she finds to this material.

She/he draws from all the material that she is suppose to cover, many times making her own additional worksheets or also buying these at Teacher's supply stores. And perhaps visual aids she may buy at Teacher's supply stores or order. Many times her weekly or monthly curriculum sheets are sent the to the principal, in many areas now, and the principal over looks and ok's the sheet.

Good teacher incorporated some additional topics into the curriculum while covering all the material in the books that have been selected for them.

I know that many times the teacher must incorporate as well items in his/her curriculum that the children will be tested on. In some states there are additional tests besides the Achievement tests in 6th and 9th grade to see just how the child is doing. And if the child has to take a test to graduate from High school in Jr. High and earlier grades the teacher helps prepare them for these tests in addition to the cirriculum of other subjects she/he has.

Some teacher's curriculum can be lacking. As there are some teachers that just can't seem to follow their own cirriculum and don't cover the material that they have even wrote down on their monthy curriculum sheets, which are many times given to the parents in grammar and middle schools. These curriculum monthly sheets are given out especially in grammar school. There are just some teachers that don't make the effort or just aren't organized enough with their time (or) seem to know how to cover the boooks/curriculum that needs to be covered. And there are some that don't really care. Especially after their tenure is up.

I didn't say all teachers, I just said there were some that fit in this category. While also their are some principal and other people that just don't thoroughly check the teacher out, and give tenure to some teacher that do not deserve it at all .

Sometimes on a subject the state might have more than one textbook they use for one subject. Many times there are also workbooks that go with the texts that the teacher can buy. Creative teacher make up their own worksheets also and during first year teaching , they study many aids to use in their teaching . In grammar school computers can be used. In Middle school onward material the student can learn about Power Point Presentations to make up on the computer. She/he(the teacher) also can present Power point programs, and sometimes teaches helps the students present these programs for the class.

The Power Point program is a program that projects pictures and motion, sounds, along with words to present a sort of filmstrip on a certain topic. This is one way of using a good visual aid as a teaching tool.

That is usually how curriculums in public school are done around here. Of course there are private schools that have more of a defined curriculum that are in a bought Curriculum book, that the teacher is suppose to abide by, while adding additional material, if she likes. This is usually true for the grammar school, at least.
Many times around where I live the same text books in Jr. High and High school are used in the Private schools as the books that are used in Public schools.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2002 at 8:27AM
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Here is a good site for preschool lesson plans, if you are looking for some to do at home:

There are a ton of good websites for teachers with pre-designed curriculums. None of the preschool teachers I know use a pre-designed one though. Most of them do weekly letters home on what they are covering and try to take a lot of input from parents. The thing that I always hear from them, and my FH, is that parents often have this desire that everything their child does be educational, when just going to school and socializing and learning to work as a part of a team (verbalizing their needs, playing well with other kids, paying attention when the teacher is talking) is the most important thing that the K and 1st grade teachers are looking for. There can be a pressure to get the kids learning the basics before they have the skills to use them effectively. At the preschool age, children tend to do better learning math, reading, etc. as part of normal life, not in the classroom - which is a foreign environment to them and one they will hopefully learn to love.

Just what I have heard - my FH is a preschool teacher working on his masters so he can teach grade school. Not me though.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2002 at 1:03PM
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Yes, just learning to take turns, get along with others, learning to form a line(now sometimes that a big step) learning to share during play time(and when I taught my children had lots of that too) are all good things learns in Preschool. Just eating a snack and not taking the snack of another child-because the child wants it- or demanding more snack then they should get is an important steps.

Of course it is learning too for the child to learn to take instructions such as "Don't stand on that chair" "Stop right now (when we are walking in a line)! "Stay in Line"
"Don't hit Johnny just because he took the toy away from you." :-) "Be Quiet now where everyone can hear the story"

All of this and many more things will help the child adjust more easily when he/she started Kindergarten.

Even though some teacher have a curriculum book many times they add to what is in it.

I had one curriculum book, one time that would have lasted the kids about two months so there was a lot of additional information that was added. Just reading books can be educational in many ways such as learning about something in science, other children, a lesson can be learned about feelings, sharing, and more and of course vocabulary is incorporated in this too.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2002 at 2:38PM
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I want everything to be educational, BUT I don't think education is limited to learning letters and numbers. I think all the things Lynn/Anita listed above ARE educational. I work at home, so I could just get an at home babysitter to help me out if I wanted babysitting. I want my son to enjoy school and learn how to behave away from home.

My son's preschool curriculum has a theme each week. Usually the theme ties in to some holiday or other special thing that is going on(seasons, holidays, families, jump rope for heart, etc.) He is in a 2 year old class. Most of the kids are turning 3 now or in the near future. Lots of their activities involve the senses and lots of motion. sponge painting, finger pinting with colored shaving cream, action songs (like the hokey pokey). They had a rice table for a while. The play with the parachute in gym. They learn shapes naturally because the teachers talk with them about shapes during the progression of class.

Some of the parents are talking about moving their kids to a more "academic" preschool next year. I don't want to move my son. I think the curriculum is exactly what he needs right now. I think the 3 year old classes do a bit more letter and number learning, but it is in the context of songs and games, not at all "structured" academic learning (no predone worksheets). My other kids didn't attend an academic preschool and they are both above grade level in thier studies. I have been very pleased with the curriculum in the school, but some of the other parents have mentioned this to me. I think they are nuts, but I wanted to check it out somewhere else.


    Bookmark   April 22, 2002 at 10:19AM
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My DD's school is academic. The 2's class didn't have predone worksheets, but had a great art dept that taught hand-eye coordination, colors, shapes, etc.

The 3's use predone worksheets, they do 'science experiments', such as seeing which items float and which don't, which items are magnetic and which aren't, planting seeds and watching them grow, etc. They do a weather board every day where some children give a report of current weather, and the other children put the appropriate symbols on the board.

The do matching games, shape/color bingo, and have lots of time to run around and be kids.

She's turned 4 in Dec, and will be moved to the 4's room in May after last year's 4's graduate.

I'm a little nervous because the public KG has many things in their curriculum that she already knows, such as knowing both capital and small letters, learning your address, counting from 11 to 20 (she can count to 100 in english and about 40 in spanish - we're trying to be bilingual in the home).

Anyway, that's what my preschool curriculum is like, from a brief summary point of view. Although I don't think the lack of this sort of training means a child won't do well. I just lucked out to live near a great school, that DD seems to thrive in.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2002 at 12:41PM
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I wouldn't worry about there being there being things your daughter knows in K. My son (despite going to a non academic ps) already knew all his uc/lc letters, numbers, consonant sounts, and stuff like that. They started him out WRITING the numbers and letters and he didn't know that.

In our K the kids work in groups of kids with similar abilities for reading and math. Other subjects are taught to the whole class. My son's group started right in with learning to read, there were some kids who already knew how to read, while still other groups learned letters or sounds or other more basic stuff. In math the kids who could count well learned how to count by 2's to 100 and other things. If your daughter gets a good teacher she will find things to challenge her. It is easier in K, it gets harder as kids get older.


    Bookmark   April 22, 2002 at 1:55PM
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I know what you mean Mommabear - classroom skills and interpersonal skills and those kinds of things ARE educational. The issue I was talking about was when parents seem to have a hard time grasping that play is educational. Like they would rather have their kids go to the park that is named after the famous person and hear a lecture about that person than go to a park without a name and play. Or they would rather their kids hear Mozart than Raffi during quiet time. They think that everything their kids do must enhance them as informed, cosmopolitan people. Four-year-olds. It is kind of silly. It is like trying to plant orchids in hard clay. You can't just stick them in there. You have to prep the ground first.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2002 at 2:40PM
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I did the weather calendar also. Kids loved it.

I too would not worry that your child would be bored . My daughter being only 6 entered 2hd grade reading above third grade level and was reading 100 pages books in just a few months, to herself and comphrehending them(Ones I bought and provides for her). There are ways you can help out advanced children. Plus the kids learn science. Go over Math, most areas she knew about but there were a few things were new to her. Didn't hurt her to repeat most of it.

Some schools provide a class for advanced children "Gifted classes" some schools classes like this are very good, others not so good-as anything all according to teacher.

I wouldn't worry at all about the child being bored. Sometimes the teacher can let them help out doing other things , or even help with another student.
My daughter's teacher even let my daughter read to the class a book she was reading just a little bit of the book every day.
I didn't suggest the teacher doing this though.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2002 at 8:19AM
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On the weather calendars. The kids LOVE that. They even do that in my son's 2 year old class.

As they get older they have to write weather reports. In my kids school the younger kids have to write a weather report and get to read thier weather report over the loudspeakers during morning announcements. The kids LOVE that.

Anita-I agree with you. I think my kids have so much structured time (preschool/school/sports) that they should enjoy the unstructured time they have. If that means swimming, playing ball, or video games that's great. That's what kids SHOULD DO. They learn alot by playing ball in the park with their friends. I think that over structuring them can be a problem for both parent and child. I try to let my kids do kid things when they are NOT having structured time.


    Bookmark   April 23, 2002 at 8:49AM
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Hey, maybe in 20 years, you'll see my DD on the Weather Channel as the meteorologist du joir!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2002 at 8:02AM
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