Alabama’s state-funded preschool program consistently ranks among the highest quality nationwide.
But it serves less than 2 percent of the state’s 4-year-olds, the least accessible in the country.
That’s where private preschool centers, such as Jacksonville State University’s Child Development Center, come in. The Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce education committee toured the facility at its meeting Wednesday.
“It’s amazing how much really young children can learn,” said Patty Hobbs, director of the center.
Rather than provide a babysitting service, several studies find the best facilities offer a curriculum that prepares children for school.
The Alabama Partnership for Children is developing the “Blueprint for Birth to Five.” The plan will set out what quality preschools will teach and what parents should look for when it’s time to enroll their children.
“What you hope to find in a good preschool is what you see here,” said Eric Mackey, who chairs the committee and whose son is enrolled in the center.
Hobbs said the Child Development Center is working to align its curriculum with the statewide standards. “We expect some will be reading before they get to kindergarten,” she said.
The center also serves as the host site for hands-on training for Jacksonville State University students in early childhood education or nursing, Hobbs said.
“We’re happy JSU has seen the benefits as a real community service they want to continue to do,” she said.
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