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Public preschools are perhaps the most well-known of the early education options in the area, but parents looking for an educational setting for their 3- and 4-year-olds can find private preschools and child care centers that can offer the ABCs to their children.
Many churches offer preschool programs, such as First Christian Church in Elizabethtown. Wilma Curry, the director of preschool and after-school programs with the church, said their preschool curriculum focuses on developing the students spiritually, physically, socially and academically.
The church worked with local school systems to learn what students should be ready to tackle in kindergarten and studied state early childhood standards to develop a curriculum for their students.
Students at First Christian work on letters, sounds and early skills in math, science, social studies and language. They also have time to develop social skills through working in groups and take part in a daily Bible study.
Curry said parents come to First Christian because they like the religious instruction, but they also want an educational environment for their children.
“The parents want something more than just play,” she said.
Child care centers include preschool curriculum as well, said Kathy King, the director of the Lincoln Trail office of Community Coordinated Child Care. Curriculums cover appropriate lessons for 3- and 4-year-olds, including large and fine motor skills, socialization and academic areas such as vocabulary and basic math concepts.
“They should have a chance to do different things,” King said.
Child care centers should have age-appropriate lesson plans, posted where parents can see them, King said.
King said parents often don’t expect academics to be included in child care. They still have to struggle against the misconception that it’s only “babysitting.”
At Caldwell Early Childhood Center, while it’s not labeled a preschool, 3- and 4-year-olds follow lesson plans set every day by their preschool instructor and the center’s owner, Shirley Caldwell. Caldwell wants to see the children ready for kindergarten and the parents want to see the instruction, too.
Parents get a daily update on what their child did that day, and the children even have homework sometimes, she said.
“They want to know if we’re teaching them or not,” she said.
Education is important at all ages, Caldwell said, as she has the younger students learning rules and how to move quietly from one place to another and even the babies have activities with the child care workers.
Kelly Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747.