Disclosure: This content has been compensated as part of an Early Childhood Education promotion for Pittsburgh Public Schools. However, all opinions remain my own. #ppsafterschool
What’s the main reason Greg and I maintain a working mom / stay-at-home dad family balance? Because balancing work, child care, and soon school are not the easiest jobs in the world. We’re lucky that I’m able to work to provide for the family, but not everyone has that flexibility. As you know, we went back and forth in the spring about what to do regarding Arianna’s (pre-)schooling, and finally settled in on a public school program that fits our family’s needs.
Our decision would have been a whole lot easier if we lived in the Pittsburgh Public Schools district. Their Early Education Childhood Department “provides children, ages birth to five, with a comprehensive, educational program” with some of the programs being at no-cost to income eligible families. There’s even a “Ready Freddy” program designed for kids Arianna’s age (4 going on
20, I mean 5) that is part of the PPS’ “Transition to Kindergarten” outreach. With programs like this, her October birthday never would have been an issue. She would have stayed in the preschool program for ages 3-5 then transitioned to kindergarten in 2014.
(Like any parents, we
know think our kid is a genius. She went to pre-3 for 2 years at a private school, then we hoped to test her into private kindergarten. The school wasn’t really supporting our decision, so this year she’ll be in a public school program and start kindergarten when her same-age peers do. Let’s hope she can be tested for gifted SOON!)
The Early Childhood Program supports learning at an early age to help children avoid the “start behind, stay behind” paradox. As a former teacher, that’s why I pushed so hard to ensure my kids had access to programs like this. With me spending the majority of my time away from the kids, I want to be sure they have resources to prepare them for school. (Greg is amazing with the kids, but when it comes to working on writing, reading, and math, we agree that we’ll be relying on teachers for help with this area.) If our children have this background, they will start kindergarten at or ahead, setting them up for success down the line (like when it’s time for standardized tests).
Beyond the fact that the Early Childhood Education Program is offered five days a week, six hours a day, includes breakfast and lunch and at no cost for many families, Pittsburgh Public Schools will be offering an incredible win for families of Pre-K to 5th grade students this year–an after school care program. (This is exactly why I fretted so much about school for Arianna, I was going to have to rush around either before or after school to have her in an “all day” preschool program.)
For families with children enrolled in Pittsburgh Public Schools (Pre-K to 5th grade), there are five schools offering this program–Pittsburgh: Brookline, Colfax, Crescent Early Childhood Center, Morrow, and Phillips. Students will be able to enroll in part-time or full-time care (provided until 6:30 PM, daily) at a low cost ($28 per day for 2 days a week to $13 per day for 5 days a week). In exchange, they will get homework help and participate in thematic programming and partnerships with local organizations like the Carnegie Science Center, Gateway to the Arts and Jump Start. The students will be in a safe environment and work on age-appropriate activities.
This sounds like a great alternative to balancing schedules and rushing around at the end of the work day, doesn’t it? For my family, a program that combines the Early Childhood Program and the After School Program would be a huge win. Just enrolling Arianna, we’d get after school care for $13 per day or less than $300 per month. (This would be in addition to the PreK program, which would be at no cost for income eligible families or about $650 for those who don’t meet the income eligibility.) Across nine months of school (since the program runs the school year schedule), the year-long spread of costs would never come close to the impact day care could have on a single income family. Although we chose to go the public school route this year, putting a low cost like this on education would be well worth it, in my opinion–when compared to other high quality programs, the value and cost are so worth it. Especially because the curriculum prepares the PreK students to enter Kindergarten classroom by aligning standards so there’s no gap.
If you have children in Pittsburgh Public Schools and are interested in applying, the application deadline is August 9, 2013 (which is next week!). Applications are available online at www.pps.k12.pa.us/earlychildhood or parents can request a hard copy by calling the Early Childhood Department at 412-325-4291.
I am participating with a number of other Pittsburgh bloggers to write about this incredible opportunity for Pittsburgh families. If you are interested in reading the other posts, I highly suggest searching Twitter and Facebook book for #ppsafterschool for more posts from us.