Sunday, April 1, 2012

Preschool for FREE...OR on a budget

Preschool can be expensive.  A friend of mine went “hunting” for a preschool for her son for this next school year.  I was amazed at the monthly rates she encountered.  They ranged from $145-$250. WOW!!

 There are other options. 
1.       Check to see if you are zoned for an Even Start Preschool OR Early Childhood Development Preschool.  They are typically free.  (We have 2 of these in our town.)  My 2 older children attended these programs and I was really impressed with what they did. 
2.       If your district doesn’t have a free Early Childhood Development program in your neighborhood, consider checking out an “Early childhood Development Center” for your entire city.  There are 2 ways to get into this type of program.  Most of their students are where the kids are behind their peers in 2 areas such as emotional, physical or speech.  They are required to have a peer model for every so many students.  A “peer model” is a child who is above average for their peer group, particularly in speech.  Before they will accept a peer model, they will TEST your child to see if they are an eligible candidate.  In our town, the program is superb and those spots are quickly filled.  A friend of mine, whose child is in the program, is a big fan.  They even have picked up her children on the preschool school bus to bring them to preschool.
3.       If these first 2 options do not fit your needs, or interests…consider starting a “Fun School” with your friends.
My 3rd child is my only child at home now and I felt strongly that he needed MORE academic and social interaction.  I had been working on things with him individually, but I really felt like he needed to have a classroom-like setting to learn with his peers.  Last summer, I started inquiring which of my friends were interested in creating a “Fun School”.  I wanted to have stability or routines in my own life….so I was looking for people who were OK with an “assigned day”.  I feel lucky that I had 2 friends who were totally on board with the weekly assigned day for preschool at their house—with the mother being the teacher for that day.  I truly have enjoyed teaching the boys their alphabet (and sounds of the letters), #’s, colors, and basic science principals.
 I’ll be honest and say that I attempted doing a “Fun School” with my daughter 5 years ago for the year before she started the Early Development Preschool.  It was intimidating and I felt inadequate.  I didn’t have the resources and I had SO much going on in my personal life that researching for a weekly lesson was too much for me.  (My husband was in graduate school, while working full time and my newborn son had some MAJOR medical issues at the time.)  I ended up quitting the “Fun School” half way through the year, feeling terrible for backing out on my friends—even if it was the best situation for me.
Hindsight is always 20/20 and I wish I had had the resources I have now…back then.  Thus, this is the background for this post about these great resources that I use to put together my weekly preschool lesson.  It has made planning fun…and easy.
Here are my favorite PRESCHOOL websites:
Happy Stretching Pennies...AND educating your cute preschoolers!

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