For parents, sending young children to school is not an easy task. Many worry about their 4-year-olds being exposed to much older children. And when parents work earlier and later than school hours, child care is an issue - as are days when school is closed or delayed because of inclement weather. Shuffling youngsters from before-school care to school and then back to after-school care can be very disruptive.
Home Ties Child Care and Development Program offers a Pre-K program with a big difference - before- and after-school care is available at the same location as the Pre-K program. Friday care is available as well as care when school is delayed or canceled. The program is part of Youth Health Services.
"The Home Ties Child Care and Development Program Pre-K spares children from being disrupted over and over during their day by allowing them to receive all services from one location," said Jayme Herron, Pre-K instructor. "All Pre-K programs in the county use the same curriculum and all instructors are required to have the same trainings. So children in all Randolph County Pre-K programs receive the same education, our program just makes the transition easier."
The Inter-Mountain photo by Beth Christian Broschart
Home Ties Pre-K student Cole Swiger plays with Buzz Lightyear during self-directed play time.
Elkins resident Heather Hall said her daughter Raighan currently attends the Pre-K program because of the wrap-around care it offers.
"I think my daughter receives constant care, which offers her the opportunity to bond with other students, teachers and caregivers," Hall said. "It is easier for her to adjust because she is not being shuffled around to different places throughout the day."
The smaller class and before- and after-school care was the selling point for the Ferguson family's choice to place their daughter.
"Choosing the Pre-K program through Youth Health Services provided a consistency needed for a youngster of that age," Hoy Ferguson said. "A large plus was the daycare offered after school. Madalynn's home school would have been Midland. We would have to take her to Midland for Pre-K and then arrange for a sitter after school and on Fridays, two-hour delays and school closure days. Shuffling is no good and Pre-K at Home Ties just made more sense."
Youth Health Services offers a collaborative Pre-K classroom with Randolph County Schools. Any child who is 4 years old by Sept. 1 is eligible to apply. There is no cost for the program during Pre-K hours. The program offers wrap-around child care for any working parent who needs it and Mountain Heart or private payments are accepted.
The Pre-K program at Home Ties has the capacity for 23 students. All of the rules, curriculum and learning are the same as in all the Randolph County Pre-K programs. The program has a qualified teacher and classroom aid.
"The difference lies in the fact that parents can drop children off in the morning before school and pick them up after work without disrupting their day by moving them from school to childcare," said Margy Burns, Youth Health Services director.
"If there is no school, the children come for childcare. There is no cost for the Pre-K program and parents can enroll children in the program without using any of the other Youth Health Home Ties programs. But they are available for those who need to utilize childcare."
The Home Ties Pre-K program offers a highly qualified staff teaching kindergarten readiness skills. It offers a high-scope curriculum, with children participating in small groups, large groups and individualized activities. There are daily opportunities for experiences in language and literacy, mathematics, science, physical health, the arts, social studies and social and emotional development.
"The room is set up to encourage self-directed play," Herron said. "Children learn through play and it is critical to their growth. Our students follow a play-do-review program where they plan an activity, perform the activity and review their goals for the day."
"Physical activity and music are adapted through the day," Herron said. "Weather permitting we play outside, take walks and play games outside."
Students in the Pre-K program enjoy breakfast, lunch and a snack. These are served family-style and teachers sit down with the students.
"Pre-K students learn to pour liquids into their glasses and how to serve meals," Herron said. "They also have a rest period during the day."
Herron has a degree in education with a Pre-K endorsement.
"I enjoy working with kids," she said. "It is something I have always wanted to do. My favorite time is when a child masters a new skill. They are so proud and this is the best moment for me."
Herron has worked with the Home Ties Pre-K program for eight years. Karina Shreve is the site coordinator and program assistant.
Pre-K application days have started and sign-up at Youth Health Home Ties is slated for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 1. The center is located at 102 Grant St. in Elkins.
"You can apply for your child to go to any pre-k location during application days," Herron said. "Just mark Youth Health Services Pre-K as your first choice."
"We have been a collaborative partner with Randolph County Schools for Pre-K for 10 years," said Burns. "We are really happy with our partnership and it has been beneficial for Youth Health Services, families and students. We just want parents to know about the program and the unique benefits we offer. This could be better suited for some students and families."
The Home Ties Child Care and Development Pre-K program has achieved a high standard with its accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
Additional information about the program is available online at www.youth-health.org or by calling 304-636-2869.