Cass County Democrat Missourian

Harrisonville considers focusing on 4-year-olds for preschool

Harrisonville preschoolers Cheylynn Gilbreath (left) and Montallana Horan create a seasonal craft.
Harrisonville preschoolers Cheylynn Gilbreath (left) and Montallana Horan create a seasonal craft. Submitted photo

The Harrisonville school board next week will consider a proposal to decrease early childhood offerings for 3-year-olds so the district can focus more effort on preparing 4-year-old children for kindergarten.

Last month, the board heard a proposal from Becky Campbell, principal of the Early Childhood Center, to change preschool offerings next year. Offerings for 4-year-olds would increase to five half-days a week, with both morning and afternoon sessions.

Offerings for 3-year-olds would decrease to once-a-month parent-and-child classes in addition to the weekly Parents As Teachers play groups and monthly Parents As Teachers events.

The change would allow the district to enroll more 4-year-olds than now attend the Early Childhood Center.

“There is no predefined ‘best age’ for beginning preschool, but there are several factors to consider,” Campbell said. “Students should have basic self-reliant skills, be comfortable with the absence of their parents, have physical stamina for preschool and be able to function within a standard schedule.

“Based on our experience at ECC, we find that the 4-year-old students are developmentally better prepared to attend school, and to begin adapting to a school environment in preparation for their kindergarten experience than their 3-year-old counterparts.”

Educators believe the monthly parent/child classes will help 3-year-olds adapt to the classroom setting with story time and activity centers where the kids can practice skills.

“Students will get a feel for the classroom, and their parents will get ideas for helping their students prepare for school life in their homes,” Campbell said.

The school board will meet at 7 p.m. Dec. 18 at the school district headquarters, 503 S. Lexington St.