Education no longer begins only when children enroll in Kindergarten, and it doesn’t always take the summer off anymore. Early childhood education has come a long way from the day care days, with more parents seeking pre-schools that don’t just baby-sit, but teach.
"Our Kindergarten teachers are quick to identify the children who’ve had quality early childhood education, because they do come to school more ready to learn," says Mary Humlicek, Title One Preschool Program Coordinator with the Columbia Public Schools .
Humlicek says early childhood education does make a difference, giving children a step up on their education, especially for poor children. Title One schools have a disproportionate number of poor children attending and receive special funding from the federal government.
Summer school also is growing in popularity. Nearly 1,000 First Graders are enrolled in summer school in Columbia and 700 who will be entering Kindergarten this fall.
"And that program, although it’s short, again teachers are very quick to notice which children have participated in that summer program when they enter school in the fall," according to Humlicek.
Humlicek acknowledges that many parents might be using the school system for cheap child care, but adds that the children benefit greatly from the experience of summer school.