The importance of preschool

Published 9:26 am Saturday, February 9, 2019

By Jennifer Lawhead

Director of Community Education Center

Preschool registration is right around the corner, and here at the Community Learning Center, we often get asked many important questions during this time, such as “Why should we send our children to preschool?” or “Why does the state of Minnesota place such high value on early childhood education?”  Well, according to a landmark study by the Federal Reserve, we know that if children are supported in the growth of their cognitive, language, motor and social-emotional skills, then they are more likely to succeed in school and therefore later contribute to society.

Email newsletter signup

Another question we’re often asked is, “What do children do when they are at preschool?”

I know that my memories of preschool include riding trikes in the church basement, enjoying apple juice and graham crackers for snack, and playing with playdough. However, as a child, and even as a new parent, I didn’t realize the intentional design of preschool in supporting the development of young children.

Students in preschool work on numerous important developmental skills.  For example, when students have snack time at school, they are learning how to make polite requests and developing decision-making skills by selecting either milk or water. They develop their fine motor skills by using a spoon, pouring water from a (very small) pitcher, and enhance their language skills through conversation with their classmates and teachers. When students ride trikes around the gym, they are developing their gross motor skills, growing their social emotional skills through sharing, and learning to follow two- and three-step directions.

All the activities in the three- and four-year old preschool programs at Austin Public Schools are carefully designed by our teachers, who are licensed by the state of Minnesota, to grow skills in a manner that is appropriate for little ones. We believe, as Mr. Rogers always said, that “play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning.” Because we know that the social emotional development of our preschool students is paramount, staff at the Community Learning Center fully implement the Pyramid Model. This program aligns with PBIS, which is used at Woodson Kindergarten Center. The Pyramid Model helps educators build skills for supporting and nurturing students, create learning environments that target social-emotional skills, and support children with their social-emotional development.

Other inquiries about preschool include questions about transportation, child care, and cost. Because of our wonderful partnerships with the Parenting Resource Center and the United Way of Mower County, our students have the opportunity to apply for transportation to and from school using the Rainbow Route. In addition, we are fortunate at the Community Learning Center to have wrap-around child care available for our preschool students.

Kids Korner staff are on site to provide excellent child care with engaging activities (and the cutest little holiday concert you’ve ever seen) for students before and after they attend preschool.  Because our preschool has a four-star Parent Aware rating, we have scholarships available for qualifying students. In addition, since 2016 we have been awarded money from the state of Minnesota for Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten. We anticipate we will receive this funding again for the 2019-2020 school year, and will be informed by April of this award.

Please contact us at the Community Learning Center if you have any questions about preschool opportunities with Austin Public Schools. We are so proud of the high-quality experiences we provide for the youngest learners in Austin.