Early learning: Child care or preschool?

People often ask me “what is the difference between a child care and a preschool?”

As director of the Children’s House at Montessori Borealis Public School, I tell them that, in our program, we offer care and education for preschool age children from morning until evening. There is no magic line separating child care and education.

Young children learn from their interaction and experiences with their environment, including the people, the places and the objects that surround them. At a typical child care, the child is learning as well. One would hope that the child attends a program that is carefully designed to encourage children’s physical, cognitive and social/emotional development. When child care providers genuinely care about the children and their development, they are likely to provide a wide variety of age-appropriate activities — arts and crafts, dance and movement, storytelling, reading, free play both indoor and outdoors — designed to teach children different skills, including academic basics like the alphabet and counting. The quality of the child care is what makes a difference.

Having enough child care for working parents that also helps prepare children for kindergarten is essential for our economy and for sustaining the quality of life in Juneau. I encourage the Juneau Assembly to vote in favor of putting the child care and early learning/preschool initiative on the ballot this fall. To find out more about the initiative, the need, proposed solution and benefits of supporting families and children when it matters most, go to www.juneaubeststarts.org.

Lupita Alvarez,

Montessori Borealis

Children’s House Administrator and Teacher

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