Preschool enrollment is now underway with school starting in September. If you are considering preschool for your child, the options are abundant in the Chewelah area.
“Preschool is the new kindergarten,” according to the Director of the Valley Early Learning Center, Candace Harris.
Harris said, with more developed requirements for children entering kindergarten, much more is expected of 3 and 4 year-olds than was a decade ago.
“Unless a child has some sort of preschool education, they are already behind,” she said.
She said there is an obvious disparity in the kids who do preschool and those who don’t, even the children who do half-time versus full-time, or one year versus two years. Most children will learn fast and be able to catch up, but there’s a lot to know to get ready for kindergarten, Harris said.
She said while it is true that some students can catch up there is also abundant research that shows “when children living in poverty start behind, they tend to stay behind.”
Nancy Williams, Director for the Rural Resources Early Childhood Division, agrees that preschool is extremely valuable and can affect a child’s chance of future success.
“Research has proven that kids that go to preschool are better prepared for kindergarten and do better later on in life,” Williams said.
She said children who attend high quality preschool obtain better chances sof employment, earn higher wages, and obtain a higher education level than their counterparts who did not attend preschool. There is also a reduction in drop-out rates and even reduced incarceration rates for those that attend quality preschool.
“There’s a really positive impact for all children enrolled,” Williams said.
However, preschool is not required as part of basic K-12 education, which creates a disparity in the types of education available, what public programs they qualify for and what families can afford for their child.
For example, just at the Valley Early Learning Center, parents pay differently based on a family’s or child’s individual need or circumstance.
For a typical, affluent family, Harris said full-day preschool at the Valley Early Learning Center costs about $500 a month for four days a week. But ECEAP-qualified (state funded) students can enroll in the same program at no cost based based on income, disabilities, or other risk factors. There are also programs available for state subsidies with a co-pay. But Harris said the families in between — those that make too much to qualify but can’t afford full tuition — are at a disadvantage.
But she also said Valley is glad to be able to offer the wide variety of funding options to families to reach as many people as possible and deliver a quality learning experience at an early age. Many programs are offered throughout the Chewelah area to give as many people a chance at preschool as possible.
Because despite the changes of preschool standards, it still remains a place for children to grow as they learn primarily through play and develop social skills.
“Preschool is still an awesome opportunity for socialization and development of creativity,” Harris said.
Here is a comprehensive list of all the programs offered in Chewelah and surrounding communities. Call the phone number listed to enroll.
Pre-K at St. Mary’s (part-day)
This is the 25th year for Pre-K at St. Mary of the Rosary Catholic Church. The school is Christian-based and self-supported, although backed by the church. It is open to 3-5 year olds.
Tuesday – Thursday
Lead Teacher: Doreen Kenney, WA State Certified teacher
Classes begin Sept. 6
Fingerprints Preschool is located at St. Paul Lutheran Church. The school is Christian-based and self-supported, although backed by the church. It is open to 3-5 year olds.
Tuesday – Thursday
Lead Teacher: Jennifer Lotze
Chewelah Head Start –
Chewelah Head Start is a program of Rural Resources. Rural Resources offers Head Start classes in four locations throughout Stevens County and ECEAP classes in two locations through subcontracts with Mary Walker School District and Valley School District (see more information below). To be eligible for Head Start, children must be 3 or 4 years old and below 100 percent of the federal poverty level, or have special needs, be homeless or in foster care. This program provides meals/snacks and possible transportation. Head Start coordinates with the Chewelah School District to assure children with special needs are assessed. For more information go to www.ruralresources.org.
Monday-Thursday mornings – four hour classes
Lead Teacher: Zoey Larson
Classes start Sept. 20
Gess Elementary (part-day)
Gess Elementary preschool is open to children with special needs ages 3 and older. The Chewelah School District offers screenings for children to be placed in the program, which is free to those who qualify. Student transportation is a possibility. The class is supported by paraeducators and the special education department.
Monday – Thursday mornings
Lead Teacher: Mary Kersey, 15 years at Gess Preschool
ECEAP (funded by the Washington State Department of Early Learning).
To be eligible for ECEAP (Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program) children must be 3 or 4 years old by Aug. 31. ECEAP requires families to be at or below 110 percent of federal poverty level, or have documented delays or disabilities. Homeless and foster children are also eligible. The program provides meal/snacks. For more information go to www.esd101.net or go to www.del.wa.gov.
Summit Valley School District (part-day)
Serves Addy and surrounding communities in the Summit Valley School District, 509-935-6362
Columbia School District
Serves Hunters and surrounding communities in the Columbia School District, 509-722-3311
Loon Lake School District
Mary Walker School District offers community and ECEAP slots at the preschool, located at Springdale Elementary. Students that are 3 years old attend Tuesday through Thursday mornings for $45/month (or free for ECEAP). Students that are 4 years old attend Monday through Thursday mornings at $60/month (or free for ECEAP). Breakfast and lunch are provided and after school transportation is available.
Valley Early Learning Center (part-day and full day)
Valley Early Learning Center, located at the Valley School District, is available to work with all families of all income levels. Schedules are flexible depending on the family’s needs. There are three classrooms of mixed age groups. Children 2.5-5 years old are eligible for the program. Student transportation is available. ECEAP slots are available as well as state subsidies for working parents.
Lead teachers: Shellie Anderson, Jami Cox, Christie Carter
Classes start Sept. 12
-By Kellie Trudeau/The Independent Staff