Lately, I have been asked too many times about my reaction regarding the “free” preschool programs for young children and how I think it will affect us as private child care and education providers. I usually dismiss the question by saying that there is enough need for the services to keep us all in business, not wanting to get involved in a political debate. However, after reading the article included and recently speaking with a parent from a family who had previously left their private program (not ours) because they could not resist the “free” option, but after 2 months have returned to their previous program, I could no longer resist stating my personal and professional opinion.
First of all, these programs are not free, the money has to come from somewhere.
Second, according to this parent’s feedback, it was costing them much more than the tuition they were accustomed to paying at a private center. Their child had gone from enjoying every second of school to dreading getting ready in the morning to go to school. That alone for me as a parent would be irreparable and way beyond anything I could fathom to pay.
I do not know what is being offered at the “free” programs (I don’t work there), but I know that at our schools children will not be expected to sit for long periods of time and complete boring worksheets (easy way to provide assessment) because our teachers know very well that this is not the best way for children to learn. Our staff is knowledgeable and experienced in Child Development, have worked very hard to obtain their credentials, and have been carefully selected to be the ones in charge of a classroom. Instead, the children in our program will be exposed to challenging activities that will encourage them to think, create and problem solve while developing essential Emotional Intelligence. These activities will be either extensions or introductions of other experiences that include family and community involvement or the carefully designed environment we provide for the children. It is our goal to assist parents in developing positive and actively involved citizens because we agree that Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. (John Dewey)
To finalize, my advice to parents is, if you have a choice (financially speaking), take your time to compare the programs you have to offer your child because sometimes “free” can cost a lot more than you could ever anticipate.
Cristiane Oliveira-Foster –Owner of Edgewater Preschool (Long Beach, CA) and Children’s Village Preschool (Orange, CA)
Link to the article that sparked this post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2015/11/24/how-twisted-early-childhood-education-has-become-from-a-child-development-expert/