Free preschool for Iowa four-year-olds

Last year only 50 percent of parents living in Davenport took their kids to some type of preschool program, leaving those kids to miss out on basic skills that are crucial for when they go to kindergarten.

An Iowa program is trying to get the word out they they offer free preschool and this year free transportation so no child will be left behind.

From playing with sand to drawing pictures and building boats, it might seem like play time to some four-year-olds, but it’s actually part of a lesson plan.

“The teachers are actually teaching seven different lessons, there’s science, there’s literacy, there’s math,” says teacher Katie Furlong.

It’s no cost to their parents either.

“There’s no catch for participation, we just want to help children,” said Diana Saelens, Pre-K instructional Specialist, for Davenport Community Schools.

Iowa’s Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program is free to any four-year-olds that live in Iowa.

“This provides the children with a great head start into kindergarten to ensure that they receive those educational skills they need to be successful.”

Katie Furlong is not just a teacher in the program, her child is also enrolled. A study by the Davenport School District found that last year only half of four-year-olds living in Davenport received some type of preschool program. Saelens says many of those children end up falling behind in school.

“It’s so important that when they start kindergarten, they really do need to have some of those basic skills in place, especially knowing their letters, being able to count,” said Saelens.

That’s why they’re offering free transportation to children who attend home child care.

“There’s other children that could have benefited from this program, they just didn’t know about it, so we definitely need to get the word out,” said Furlong.

Children have to turn four on or before September 15, to enroll for the 2013-2014 school year. Rock Island County has a similar program.



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