4 million children are born each year in the United States. While public K-12 education is available to every child, accessibility to public pre-K-12 education varies from state to state. Of the 44 states which support pre-K educational programs, only 11 fully fund those programs.
The experts tell us that the first five years of a child's life are critical ones in terms of his development. It is a tough call, however, as you have essentially two early education options: either you take charge of that development or you delegate the task to somebody else.
- Be a stay at home parent.
- Get your child into a good nursery or day care.
Single parents and working parents make the stay at home option increasingly rare these days. The truth is that many working mothers give birth to a child and are lucky if they can spend a few weeks at home before trundling baby off to day care. If you can swing it, be a stay at home parent. It's a huge sacrifice but well worth it. One consideration to factor in: the high cost of daycare may offset your net earnings. Ponder the financial facts carefully. After all you know your child better than any one else. The emotional, cognitive and social development which you can give your child will be finer than anything found elsewhere.
Getting Into Preschool
If you have lived in your community for a few years, you should know which preschools are good and which are not. Their reputations will generally be well-established. Good is a subjective adjective, but what we really mean is "Is the school safe?" "Does it have a good reputation?" Regardless of what you hear from friends and family, make an appointment to inspect the school, interview the staff and file an application if you approve.
If you are new to the community, ask your realtor or friends at your church or synagogue. Colleagues at work might also be helpful. Do your own due diligence. Is the school you are considering a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children? Remember: you have your standards. If a school doesn't measure up to your expectations, move on.
It always helps if another sibling has attended the preschool to which you are applying. If that is not the case, then I advise you to apply as early as you are allowed. Perhaps applying the day after your child is born is a tad early, but you get the idea. Start exploring your early education options just as soon as you can.
Preschool Waiting Lists
I know what you are thinking. "Waiting lists for preschool? He's got to be kidding." Waiting lists for preschool and nursery schools are common in major urban areas such as Boston, New York, Chicago and Atlanta. If you are the parent of preschooler, you have to be concerned about finding a good preschool which will accept your child. With places are extremely limited and admissions highly competitive, don't be surprised if your child ends up on a waiting list.
Public or Private School?
Many parents struggle with the question of whether to send their children to public or private elementary school. If you have an excellent public elementary school in your area, then public education is a viable option. If you don't, you need to consider a private elementary school. Why? Because the early years in school lay foundations in the core subjects of reading and math. These subjects go by a variety of names but the objective is the same. Your child is being taught how to read and write and add and subtract. Find out which curriculum are used. Observe how they are taught. Your child's future is at stake. What Works Clearinghouse will help you compare the various texts and curricula on the market.