They fall frequently, sleep a lot and are messy eaters, but they also epitomize the old saying that good things come in small packages. They’re our City’s children and New Brunswick offers a free preschool program designed to help prepare them socially and educationally for the start of elementary school.
With 106 preschool classrooms throughout 20 locations in the City, all New Brunswick children that meet the age requirement are eligible for two years of preschool.
Melissa Parisi, Director of Early Childhood Education, has been doing this work for almost 20 years.
“The best, most beneficial thing for students is that they receive social and academic instruction to prepare them for primary grade education,” she said.
The preschool program uses the research-based State curriculum called Tools of the Mind. This special curriculum plan focuses on building relationships among peers incorporating academics, friendship skills and language development.
By learning through play, students build new knowledge by practicing role playing and story-telling through a natural and fun style of learning that is suited for children of this age.
“Children in our preschool program really enjoy themselves, but the benefits of enrollment go far beyond simply having fun,” explains Dr. Aubrey Johnson, Superintendent, New Brunswick Public Schools. “Overall, our district students who began their education by participating in the program score higher on assessment tests than those who didn’t. The New Brunswick Preschool Program is the ideal way for parents and families to give children a fast start on learning and I strongly encourage them to take advantage of the opportunity.”
Resources and opportunities to learn go beyond the preschool classroom: New Brunswick High School students can take a course to receive hands-on experience through the Early Childhood Education Lab where they learn how to work with children and experience the skill-sets needed for leadership and teaching.
We cannot forget that “if personal needs are not met, the academics will suffer,” Parisi said.
Therefore, the City’s preschool program links personal and educational services via its Community Parent Involvement Specialist and Homeless Liaison for the Early Childhood Education Department, Marge Bailey. Bailey works closely with the families of homeless students in the program to link them with resources for clothing, food, shelter and transportation. Home involvement and a strong connection between family and teacher helps to best ensure the success of students in the program.
The Early Childhood Education Department is committed to growing successful seeds from the start, so providing attentive, consistent day-to-day care for pupils and their parents outside the classroom is just as important as the education provided inside the classroom.
A commitment to education is one of the most precious and helpful services that communities can give. For more information on the New Brunswick Preschool Program, visit: http://www.nbpschools.net/Departments/Early-Childhood-Education/index.html.