The state of West Virginia is mandating all counties provide a pre-k program in the next six years! Some school districts have had the program up and running now for some time.
The goal is to level the playing field: to give all children an equal opportunity! One district's newest center is so overwhelmed by this need they had four times the number of students enrolled than the district predicted!
Those children are enrolled in a brand-new pre-k program in Wayne, West Virginia designed to prepare them for Kindergarten with a social atmosphere for them to pick up some skills.
That's the number one reason now: and soon, it's going to be a requirement statewide.
They'll receive preschool screenings to pick up on developmental delays the parents may not have noticed. In the event that happens, they may not be able to get services earlier than waiting for kindergarten.
It's not just structured learning, it's structure, period.
The staff says helping children develop social skills is also key to increasing their learning abilities.
Marsha Conley’s a kindergarten teacher who's also helped with the county's pre-k program. She says it's easy to spot children who've been through a child development program.
Conley says, "We don't expect them to come in knowing every letter of the alphabet, but if they're not recognizing even one, or the first letter of their names, they're going to have trouble. The expectation of kindergarten isn't what they used to be. We expect them to read by the time they go into first grade."
The goal is to have them ready so that first day in kindergarten, isn't their first day in school just their first day of another school year.
To enroll in a pre-k program, children must be 4 years old by September 1st or 3 years old if they're tested to be a special needs child.
Enrollment in an approved participating West Virginia pre-k program is voluntary; however, once the child is enrolled, attendance must meet state standard.