More area schools offering pre-k programsPublished 9:04pm Thursday, August 15, 2013
Although kindergarten is usually the first formal schooling most children receive, there’s a growing trend in getting an early start on education through pre-k programs. Morgan Academy is among several local schools that have taken note of this educational shift and started providing early learning opportunities.
In their second year of offering the pre-k program, administrators are testifying to its success in preparing students for a structured classroom environment.
“Everybody needs to have access to something like this, whether you do it at home or at school,” said Donna Fondren, pre-k teacher at Morgan. “It’s becoming more and more important to get education early on.”
With eight students currently enrolled in the program, Fondren said the school is looking to increase enrollment.
“We want people to be aware that it’s here, and just like anything else, we’ve got to have the support for it to continue,” Fondren said. “You need that support from families and the community to make these programs available and make them work.”
In a previous interview with the Times-Journal, Linda Tilly of VOICES for Alabama’s Children said enrolling children in pre-k programs is becoming more crucial to their educational success. Specifically in Alabama, Tilly said there is a growing need for pre-k programs.
“Compared to other states, Alabama doesn’t offer as many opportunities for pre-k learning,” Tilly said. “If schools started offering these programs and more parents enroll their children, I think we would see a great change in the educational preparedness of children when they enter kindergarten and elementary.”
And although the need for pre-k programs is clear, Fondren said becoming certified to offer the program is not necessarily easy. Because Morgan Academy is not directly affiliated with a church and is not Christian-based, Fondren said the school had to go through several regulations to offer the program.
“Because Morgan has no relation with any specific church, we had to go through [The Alabama Department of Human Resources] to become licensed to have this program,” Fondren explained, noting the school received their license to teach pre-k in 2012. “With that, there are certain rules and regulations we have to follow, which are all for the safety of the children.”
Since teaching the program, Fondren said she has seen great improvements in her students. Not only are they more prepared for kindergarten, but they are also more assimilated to the classroom environment, she said.
“Everything is kind of bumping down — kindergarten is becoming more like first grade and pre-k is becoming more like kindergarten,” Fondren explained. “The children who moved on this past year, I feel like they’re better acquainted with the school setting. They just seemed to really take to learning.”
If parents have questions about the pre-k program, Fondren said they are welcome to call Morgan Academy and tour the facilities as well as talk with administrators.
Other private schools that currently offer pre-k programs include Meadowview Christian School and Ellwood Christian Academy.