Pre-K enrollment opens March 20

By Carrie Sutton | Mar 16, 2017
Enrollment for Haywood County Schools Pre-K opens March 20. The NC Pre-K program is designed to prepare four year olds for school.

Applications are now being accepted for the North Carolina Pre-Kindergarten program in Haywood County for the 2017-18 school year.

Students who are eligible for the program must be 4-years-old by Aug. 31, 2017; live with a parent or guardian in Haywood County; and attend a developmental screening appointment. Children of active duty military families are also eligible.

The Haywood County Pre-K program is a state-funded program that offers a high-quality education designed to prepare four year olds for school. The following elementary schools in the county have Pre-k classes: Clyde, Hazelwood, Jonathan Valley, Meadowbrook, and North Canton. This program is made possible through Haywood County Schools’ partnership with The Region A Partnership for Children and the Department of Child Development and Early Education.

A recent study by Duke University researchers found that children who were enrolled in the state’s early childhood programs, like NC Pre-K, performed better throughout elementary school, with gains lasting through fifth grade.

Researchers found that NC Pre-K programs lowered the odds of children needing special education during elementary school, reduced the odds of students being held back in elementary school, and resulted in higher test scores.

“Our county’s Pre-K program positively impacts students across socio-economic levels,” Ron Moss, Haywood County Schools elementary education director, said. “Using exploration and discovery as a way of learning enables children to develop confidence, creativity, and lifelong critical thinking skills”

Last month, Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies, released a report last month that called on improving literacy rates in children by the end of third grade.

The report claims that high quality Pre-K programs lay the foundation for third grade reading proficiency, which is an indicator of future success.

Moss agreed and explained that the Haywood County Schools Pre-K program is designed on the premise that to be academically successful, children need to be prepared in all five developmental domains: approaches to play and learning, emotional and social development, health and physical development, language development and communication, and cognitive development. These developmental domains are critical to children’s overall well-being and success in reading and math as they enter school.

“Our Pre-K students enter kindergarten as leaders of their classroom and are prepared to learn,” Myra Watson, Haywood County Schools Pre-K and Kindergarten instructional coach, said. “People often forget about the importance of learning the soft skills like how to carry a tray in the cafeteria, using a hallway bathroom, and making friends.”

Watson explained that parents of Pre-K students can expect a diverse classroom with no more than nine students. She said an average day of Pre-K consists of students playing in different centers, which are changed in the classroom frequently so that kids are always exploring and taking part in different activities. Pre-K students also get to participate in field trips, eat in the school cafeteria, and have access to afterschool care.

Fee-waived eligibility for the Pre-K program is based on family income, and other factors such as developmental disability, or limited English knowledge. There are also a limited number of private pay slots available for $550/month at each school with a Pre-K class. Students in Pre-K receive free breakfast, may qualify for free or reduced lunch, and transportation may be provided.

North Carolina is one of four states with a Pre-k program that meets all 10 National Institute of Early Education Research Benchmarks.  Benchmarks include comprehensive early learning standards; staff meet education/licensure requirements, professional development; 1:9 staff/child ratio; developmental screens and referral; evidence-based curriculum and formative assessments; monitoring and nutritional requirements.

Applications for the Pre-K program are available March 20 – May 12 at the Haywood County Schools Central Office located at 1230 North Main St. in Waynesville. The deadline to submit applications is May 12. For more information about the NC Pre-K program, visit the Haywood County Schools website at www.haywood.k12.nc.us and click on departments, then elementary education. Parents can also call Elaine Clinard at 828-456-2400 for more information about applying.

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