It hardly seems possible that we are in the midst of transitioning from preschool to kindergarten with our oldest child. How did that curious little infant we had 5 and a half years ago move so quickly through toddlerhood and preschool?
Yet here we are with a rapidly approaching “first day of kindergarten” and a host of emotions that come along with that. We have the usual parents’ concerns: will the teacher will be a good fit for Maya? Will she easily make friends? Will the rigorous academic expectations of kindergarten overwhelm her? And then there is the excitement of shopping for school supplies, building new friendships, going on field trips, and most important, the continued love of learning new things.
Through this important transition in Maya’s life, there is one thing that provides me with confidence: her experience attending a high quality preschool...
I know the opportunities she had navigating her social world in preschool have prepared her for the academic rigor she will soon be facing in kindergarten. She will walk into Kindergarten having had plenty of experiences collaborating and problem solving with peers, taking on meaningful risks, and learning how to manage and articulate her feelings.
As a child development professional, I know that research demonstrates that high quality preschool positively influences school readiness. And as a parent, I know that my daughter demonstrates her own kindergarten readiness every day. I see it in her interactions with adults and other children, in the creative way she goes about solving problems, and with her eagerness to take on new challenges. These are the important skills we nurtured at home and in close partnership with her preschool.
Sadly preschool is out of reach for many Tucson children. Why? Cost--especially if you have more than one child between the ages of two to five. My family spends more on part-time preschool for our two children than we do on our mortgage. In fact, the monthly cost is greater than a 3 credit graduate course at NAU. We know that the experiences provided to our children in high quality preschool will be invaluable to their later success in school, so we make it happen. Yet we realize that we are among the fortunate who can afford such a steep cost.
Most Tucson families are not so fortunate. Only 16% of Tucson’s preschool aged children are currently enrolled in a high quality preschool program. All children deserve the opportunity to learn and grow in a high quality preschool setting, including Tucson’s three and four year olds. As a community, we must do better. It’s up to city of Tucson voters to vote “Yes” on Prop 204. Our kids, our families, and our community’s future depends on you. Now is your opportunity to let every child shine—like I know Maya will-- when they walk through the door to kindergarten.