Preschool is often the term used to refer to child care centers that care for children aged 3 to 4 years old. It is sometimes called pre-kindergarten. Preschool can be based in a commercial care center or at a public school.
In the United States, Head Start is a federally funded program for low-income children that offers subsidized and free preschool to children.² Head Start serves more than 1 million low-income children.² Early Head Start is similar and serves children from birth to aged 3 from low-income families.²
“The Head Start program aims to promote school readiness by enhancing the social and cognitive development of children through the provision of educational, health, nutritional, social, and other services to enrolled children and families."²
Children who play sports may benefit from group child care where physical activity is promoted with groups of children. According to the National Center for Early Development and Learning, children from low quality child care centers may be less advanced in terms of vocabulary and reading skills.¹
Classes are usually very large in commercial care centers, and the ratio of children to caregivers is much higher. However, children in commercial care centers gain independence, academic achievement, and socialization.¹
Another method of childcare before and after school is the YMCA program. Buses bring children from their homes to the YMCA location where they learn early literacy skills and learn about their world, make friends, and learn new skills and how to do homework.³ The YMCA claims that its programs are staffed with people who understand the cognitive, physical, and social development of children.³
Regardless of the type of preschool or commercial child care a parent chooses, parents should ensure that the facilities are bright and clean, children eat, sleep, and play in separate areas, and that the people running the center are the right type of people that parents want around their children.
2. Head Start and Early Head Start. Children’s Defense Fund.
3. Child Care. YMCA of the USA.
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