Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Working Mom Tip: The Power of Public Education (Early Childhood Development and Afterschool Programs (#ppsafterschool)

(This content has been compensated as part of an Early Childhood Education promotion for Pittsburgh Public Schools. However, all opinions remain my own. #ppsafterschool)

“In states that make it a priority to educate our youngest children…studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, form more stable families of their own. We know this works. So let’s do what works and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind.” President Barack Obama, State of the Union, February 12, 2013

As President Obama said in his most recent State of the Union, the benefits of quality pre-school education is proven. For that reason, and because a lot of mothers work and need their children to “go somewhere during the day”, enrollment in pre-school has sky rocketed. Indeed, in some neighborhoods, where your child attends pre-school has become the new status symbol, kind of like carrying the hottest handbag.

Pittsburgh Public School Early Childhood Development Program


Still, a fashionable girl like me knows that the quality of the pre-school program matters more than its name. For that reason, I spent a great deal of time researching the local pre-schools, visiting pre-schools and talking to my friends. My research revealed that that Pittsburgh Public Schools has an early childhood development program that is both well-regarded and affordable. Any child who meets the age requirements and lives in the city is eligible to enroll in one of their pre-school programs. As the daughter of an educator who has devoted most of her professional life to public education, I am a huge proponent of public schools. So learning about this program made me happy! 


Pittsburgh Public Schools has sites all around the city. Enrollment in the program is done through a lottery system where the parents list their school preference. Qualifying children attend for free and the others pay $650/month for tuition. This includes breakfast, lunch and a variety of field trips. It is really hard to beat the cost and the quality.

 

The Pittsburgh Children's Museum and Dilworth Child Development Programs


There is even one that is housed at The Pittsburgh Children’s Museum! That’s right. Children can attend pre-school at one of their favorite places on earth and have access to the Museum as part of their curriculum. And the Museum school has a truly wonderful curriculum where the children visit one room per day in the Museum to supplement what they learn in the classroom.


A few of my friends have sent their children to The Pittsburgh Children’s Museum program and they rave about it. They were impressed by the quality of the curriculum, the commitment of the teachers, and the achievements of their children who were reading before they left the program. My friend's daughter is currently in fifth grade at a well-regarded private school and is excelling. Her parents credit her success to this program. Moreover, she made friendships in pre-school that have lasted to this day.
 
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Another notable program is at a school in Highland Park called, Dilworth. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more dedicated principal than Dr. Monica Lamar who refers to the children in the pre-school program as “her babies” and ensures that all of them are kindergarten-ready by the time they complete the program.

The tagline for the Pittsburgh Public School district says that it provides “the pathway to the promise”. The School district has gotten a great deal of press for the “Pittsburgh Promise”, a scholarship program created by The Pittsburgh Foundation, UPMC corporations and the community to provide scholarships for students who attend at least four years of Pittsburgh Public School to attend an accredited post-secondary institution within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh Promise is an incredible program, but the promise offered by Pittsburgh Public Schools is much deeper.  By providing quality early childhood education, they offer the promise of a great start in education for the children of Pittsburgh and that promise is being fulfilled, in spades. 
 

The Pittsburgh Public Schools New Afterschool Program


In furtherance of the District's commitment to working families, this year they have started an Afterschool program at several sites. The Aftershool program is available for students from PreK-5 and lasts until 6:30 PM. It is a huge benefit for working parents whose workday often lasts longer than the average school day. At the Afterschool program, students can get  extend their academic day and help with homework, spend time with friends enjoying crafts, and participate in other programs. I imagine that the homework help will be an enormous help to weary working parents who might not have the energy to help as much as they would like at the end of the school day. It also can give parents peace of mind to concentrate on work knowing that their kids are safe and supervised instead of engaging in mischief.
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Pittsburgh Public Schools Afterschool Program Application Details
The application deadline is August 9, 2013. Applications are available online at www.pps.k12.pa.us/earlychildhood or parents can request a hard copy by calling the Early Childhood Department at 412-325-4291.
 
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