What is the Need in Region 1?
The need for quality preschool programs in Region 1 is great. We ended the 2010/2011 year with 1,449 preschool-age students in our program, and 536 students received migrant-funded services. An additional 404 students received services through other local ELE programs. A total of 61% of our students received preschool services. There are still many students that do not have the opportunity to have a preschool experience.
We work hard to address this disparity. We conduct regular assessment of ALL preschool students. One of our regional goals is to assure that all migrant preschool students receive, at the least, an annual assessment and that the results of that assessment be shared with their parents.
Advocacy is also an important component. We know that there are more resources available for preschool services than at any time in the history of our country. However, our migrant families typically lack information in regards to these programs, and as a result, the participation rates for migrant preschool students are often below that of their peers. If we are to address the "achievement gap" with our school-age populations, we must begin to address this "access gap"; at the preschool level. Migrant staff and parents can assist with this process by becoming more aware of the existing preschool services in their communities, by meeting regularly with existing providers, by providing information to migrant families in regards to these programs, and by advocating for migrant preschool children based on actual assessment information.
Within the region, preschool services take three forms:
Migrant Education School Readiness (MESRP) programs
Regionally Administered Kinder Readiness Academies
It is important that participating districts within the region not view the MESRPP funding as the sole source of resources for working with migrant preschool children. Of course, collaborations are to be encouraged at every turn. But in addition to the collaborative partnerships that can be established, each district receiving migrant funds and serving preschool-age children should be utilizing at least a portion of their funding to serve these children. In the very earliest stages, this might involve a special "readiness" program during the summer for incoming kindergarten students. In larger, more developed programs, MESRP programs can be augmented with existing MEP funding to provide MESRP-alike type services to a larger portion of the preschool population. In some cases it may be necessary to develop unique components within the regular year and summer migrant program components to serve hard-to-reach students and families.
We are committed in Region 1 to strengthening our early identification of the preschool students, as well as building a more comprehensive service model that more truly meets the needs of all of our students.
The Region 1 MESRP program offers three types of preschool programs: 1) center based, 2) home-based and 3) a combination of both. The center based programs in Region 1 typically provide instruction 4 days per week for 3 hours a day. These programs are set-up like a typical preschool classroom with learning centers that include some combination of: reading nook/bookcase, dramatic play area, and circle time area.
Our center based programs strive to incorporate both direct instruction and interactive strategies designed to help develop independent learners through their participation in cooperative learning groups. The preschool classroom instructional day is designed to develop and expand oral language skills and vocabulary through play, song, and field trip experiences. Basic understanding of number concepts and number sense are reinforced through activities such as counting, graphing weather, using manipulatives, and recognizing shapes and colors.
Our home-based programs are characterized by weekly one-hour visits to the home and most operate on average for 24 weeks but Santa Cruz is piloting a 2 visit per week, 12 week program. Our home-based programs require that the parent be present throughout the entire visit as this provides an opportunity for the home-visitor to serve as a “model” for the parent; home-visitors also instruct parents as to what activities they want completed by the following week (“home connection”).
Curriculum & Activities
With emphasis on literacy, English Language Development (ELD), math, and social/emotional development, and based on Pre-Kindergarten standards, the preschool programs currently use preschool research-based curriculums in different combinations; most contain embedded literacy activities. Having a standard set of best practices/goals will ensure a more uniform academic experience/outcome for all children irrespective of location and instructor.