Very young children not ready for school

Published 12:46 pm Monday, March 5, 2007

By Staff
Lisa Woolard
Partnership for Children
In regards to the letter in Sound Off, I personally don’t think we will ever see 2-year-olds in public schools. Here are my reasons:
(1) The cost of this “free” service would be astronomical and most certainly raise our taxes. The present cost of child care for a five-star facility is $7,596 per child annually. The school would have to find funds in its budget to cover those costs. That amount breaks down like this: 600 children times $7,600 - well, you do the math…
(2) Additional classrooms: For 2-year-olds the maximum class size is 16 with one teacher for every eight children. So now we will need to build approximately 38 new classrooms just to house all the 2-year-olds in the county. If you do it for Bath, you will have to do it for Northeast, Chocowinity, Snowden and Eastern too.
(3) A classroom that is “educational” (developmentally appropriate) for a two-year-old is vastly different that one for the older children. 2-year-olds in school with 14 year olds? Two-year-olds standing in line? Two-year-olds riding the bus? Most two-year-olds are still in diapers. So now we have the whole issue of changing tables and diaper availability. Schools do not even accept children that cannot potty by themselves unless they are developmentally delayed.
All the arguments above also apply to three-year-olds.
As to four-year-olds, you do have the opportunity, living in the Bath School District, for your child to go to either Head Start, Care-O-World, Eastern or Northeast for free, if they qualify. Beginning March 5 and lasting through Thursday evening, prekindergarten screening by appointment only, are occurring at the National Guard Armory for classroom placement at Head Start on Flanders Filters Road in Washington, Eastern Elementary, Chocowinity Primary and Care-O-World.
This screening process for classroom enrollment will assist in determining eligibility for Head Start, Title 1 or More At Four. Only approximately 230 spaces are available for the over 600 four-year-old children presently living in this county. There just is not enough money to offer prekindergarten to every child because of funding constraints. If you’d like to make an appointment for your four-year-old child’s screening, please call 975-4647, ext. 2.
Personally, I don’t think two-and-three-year-olds are developmentally suited to attend our public schools. And I know that public schools are not equipped to serve them. Quality child care is a great vehicle for preparing young children. They are both prepared and equipped. Preparing our children for kindergarten is the very foundation for preparing them for life. Schools or even child care facilities are not alone in this process. Parents have a responsibility too. If you would like more information on how you can assist your child in preparing for kindergarten, please contact Child Connections at 975-4647, ext. 6.