Superintendent's Report: Argument for early childhood education
In the world of education, early childhood education (ECE) is a hot topic that many people are discussing. ECE serves children ages 3 and 4 with the goal of improving children’s cognitive and behavioral development. Ninety percent of a child’s brain develops by the age of 5 and the belief is that ECE provides the boost to prepare children to be better learners in the future.
Quality ECE programs are required to focus on reading and number skills, cognitive development and motor skills. Programs can also supplement instruction with recreation, meals, health care, parent education and social services.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, quality ECE interventions can have a host of benefits for kids. ECE can counteract some of the disadvantages that some students are subject to as well as help kids be ready for school. Long-term studies have shown that as adults, students that participate in an ECE program have reduced teen birth rates, reduced crime rates, and are more likely to have lifelong employment, have a higher income, and have better health.
Quality ECE programs can be expensive. The number of students per adult is typically smaller than a regular classroom requiring more staff. Classrooms may need to be modified for the students including smaller and/or lower plumbing fixtures, changing tables, dedicated playground equipment, etc. Preschool programs need to be certified and inspected by the Arizona Department of Health Services which is an additional cost. Specialists such as speech, occupational, and physical therapists, psychologists, and special education teachers are necessary for those children that are cognitively or developmentally behind.
All school districts in the quad-city area have preschools to serve students. In addition, the federally funded Head Start program provides ECE to eligible students from families that qualify based on household income.
The Chino Valley Unified School District preschool is located at Territorial Early Childhood Center (TECC), which serves children in pre-K through second grade, typically 3 to 8 years old. The TECC preschool is a state licensed preschool program that serves 90 students Monday through Thursday with an a.m. session for 3-year-olds and a p.m. session for 4-year-olds. The program is a tuition-based program open to all residents of the district regardless of income. Special needs students receive state funding to attend and Quality First provides a limited number of scholarships for low-income families. Quality First has rated the TECC preschool as a Quality Plus program, which indicates that it exceeds the quality standards of the key components of early care including adult-child interactions, learning environments, and staff qualifications.
For more information about the TECC preschool, please go to the school website at http://tecc.chinovalleyschools.com, click on the School News tab, and there you will find a copy of the student/parent handbook.
John Scholl is superintendent of Chino Valley Unified School District.