Getting an early start in almost anything can often have an amazing impact on later success, and this concept is no different when it comes to children’s education. Kindergarten readiness and time spent in a legitimate preschool program prior to a child’s first day of school can often correlate to better academic and social results.
With a variety of educational philosophies, approaches, and curriculums available it can be overwhelming for parents to figure out what approach is best for them and their child’s future success. Ultimately, much of this comes down to personal choice; however, here are a few helpful tips that I share with families to consider when deciding on a preschool program:
1. Is the program licensed? While there are a few different agencies that license preschool programs, the primary ones for families to recognize would be the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) and the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS). These agencies ensure that centers and programs follow and adhere to stringent safety and health precautions. These include anything from general cleaning practices to mandated teacher qualifications and background checks.
2. Does the curriculum align with the state standards? As I previously mentioned, there are a variety of preschool curriculums with different approaches and philosophies on how to prepare a child for kindergarten success. While much of this comes down to personal preference and the individual needs of the child, I do highly recommend families to find a program whose curriculum aligns with the state standards set forth for preschool children. These standards focus on the cognitive and social/emotional skills needed by preschool children to be kindergarten ready. In my experience, additional curriculum features such as early Spanish, dance lessons, and other enhanced programming opportunities should not interfere with these primary standards and skill sets that each child needs.
3. Is the program rated by Step Up To Quality (SUTQ)? While being licensed through an agency such as the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services ensures health and safety procedures, it does not monitor a programs educational practices or validity. This is where SUTQ accreditation takes over. A program with a SUTQ accreditation undergoes regular monitoring to ensure they meet a variety of educational requirements. These range from increased teacher qualifications to individualized child assessment practices. This accreditation has been deemed so vital by the state that in the year 2020 they will cease to provide any state funds for programs not yet accredited through SUTQ.
Great Miami Valley YMCA is proud to offer four full-day early learning centers and five part-time preschool programs throughout Butler County:
• Atrium Family YMCA Early Learning Center
• East Butler County Family YMCA Early Learning Center at Butler Tech
• East Butler County Family YMCA Part-Time Preschool
• Fairfield Family YMCA Part-Time Preschool
• Fitton Family YMCA Early Learning Center
• Fitton Family YMCA Part-Time Preschool
• Middletown Area Family YMCA Early Learning Center at Miami University-Middletown
• YMCA Part-Time Preschool at Edgewood City Schools
• YMCA Part-Time Preschool at Franklin City Schools
Each of these programs focus on the YMCA’s character development values of caring, honesty, respect, responsibility and faith and are also designed to with kindergarten readiness in mind.
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