Preschool attendance has been growing over the past several years as parents are more aware of the importance of providing their children with an early education to foster academic success. According to Utah State Office of Education, "The main focus in early childhood is for children to begin to value learning, gain knowledge, and understand their world." Learning these principles at a young age lays a strong foundation for academics.
Utah has several affordable options and resources available for parents interested in having their child attend preschool, ranging from programs at-home to center-based settings.
- UpStart Utah: UpStart is a free state-funded preschool program for 4 or 5-year-olds designed to provide them with the skills they need in reading and math to prepare for kindergarten. UpStart is a computer-based program that requires participants to use the program for at least 15 minutes per day. Children are encouraged to enjoy learning with fun activities, songs, and games, along with the ability to unlock new activities with regular use of the program. Assessments are done at the beginning and end of the program to track your child's growth. The one at the beginning of the school year educates parents how to help their child get the most out of the program.
- School District: Most school districts have a preschool for children of families in the area. Many school-based preschools in Utah have special education programs and speech therapy. District preschools require you to register ahead of time; attendance is limited to class sizes and space available at the school. One of the biggest benefits of preschool through the district is that the schedule and days off usually coordinate with that of the elementary school to give you the convenience of taking your kids to school at the same time.
- Mountainland Head Start: Head Start is another free option for lower-income families or those who have children with learning delays, such as and IEP for speech therapy. Most centers offer morning and afternoon classes, Monday through Friday for 3.5 hours per day. Head Start has several locations throughout Salt Lake City and the surrounding areas.
- In-home: Many moms choose to work from home by teaching their own in-home preschool program. What's great about this option is class sizes are usually smaller and many children are comfortable in a home environment. In-home preschools also typically offer lower rates when compared to independent or daycare preschools.
- Joy School: A mom that is interested in learning more ways to teach her child, but would like help with the curriculum, can benefit from teaming up with other moms to teach preschool. By setting a schedule that works for all participants and trading off teaching, moms get a chance to be involved in their child's education while having a break on their non-teaching days. Joy School opens up opportunities to be creative with the curriculum and style of teaching that best fits the needs of the children attending.
Whatever option(s) you choose, your child will get a great start on their education and learn a lot of other important life skills!
- Preschool Utah - parent helps for choosing a preschool
- Utah State Office of Education - early education guide and preschool activities
- Jump Start - free printable and online preschool activities
- Pinterest - a variety of creative preschool activity ideas
- Mother Goose Time - preschool curriculum ready in a box delivered monthly with lesson plans and activities
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