Early Childhood Center expands to full-day preschool options in Craig | CraigDailyPress.com

Early Childhood Center expands to full-day preschool options in Craig

New program slated to increase success in kindergarten and beyond

Derek Maiolo

The new school year is quickly approaching and with it come some new changes to the district’s Early Childhood Center.

The center will be implementing a full-day schedule for its older preschool students starting this year.

Stephanie Davis, director of the Early Childhood program, said the expanded class time will provide numerous opportunities.

"It's an exciting opportunity for families and the community," she said.

The full-day schedule was introduced in the district last year in the form of two pilot programs at the childhood center and East Elementary. At the end of the sessions, Davis said the feedback from parents was positive.

"We had an overwhelming response from parents that they wanted it," she said.

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The district's preschool program enrolls children ages three and four, but the full-day schedule will only be utilized for children who have turned four as of Aug. 31. There will be one full-day program at each of the four elementary schools in the district. Class enrollment includes all three types of preschool students: those whose parents pay the program's tuition out-of-pocket, those with Colorado preschool scholarships and those with Individual Education Programs (IEPs).

Davis said the new program will allow for more interaction between students and teachers, meaning students will receive more exposure to new vocabulary and development skills. The afternoons will also be structured such that students can participate in hands-on activities, especially in the field of science.

Lila Douglas, the Early Childhood Center's secretary and health technician, said the extended school day will also improve the sociability amongst the young students.

"You see the progress," she said of last year's pilot program. "They're learning to share and group together."

Davis hopes the new program will better prepare students for kindergarten and beyond.

"Research supports they are more successful," she said of students enrolled in full-day programs.

In order to track the new schedule's impact on student success, Davis will continue to monitor the performance of those enrolled in the program as they advance through the school system.

As students prepare for the new school year, Davis urges parents to participate in the upcoming health fair. The event, which will be held from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Aug. 28, provides a free health screening for children ages five and under. The preschool staff as well as professionals from the local Child Find team, Lion's Club, Visiting Nurse Association, Horizons, Connections for Kids and Dental Coalition will be available to provide screenings for cognitive and physical development as well as eyes, ears and general health.

The purpose of the fair is to detect health issues — mental or physical — which may hinder a student's quality of life and their academic performance.

Davis said the goal is to screen every student in the preschool program.

"It's all about early intervention and finding things kids need to be successful," she said.

After the health screening, parents will meet with professionals to discuss any concerns and determine if further testing needs to be done.

Parents must make an appointment to participate in the health fair, but the event is offered free of charge. Prior to the appointment, parents must also pick up and fill out a developmental profile, ages and stages questionnaire, and a permission-to-screen form, all of which can be picked up at the Early Childhood Center. In order to make an appointment, call Lila Douglas at 970-824-7475.