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Tiger Talk: Early childhood education: a great investment

Pine-River Backus is proud to provide quality education to all of our learners. We tend to think of our school as a “K-12” system.

In actuality, educating our future Tigers begins at birth! At PR-B we have quality staff who work hard to provide best practice instruction to our earliest learners.

It was exciting for me to go through the most recent strategic planning process with our PR-B staff, students and community. I was encouraged to see that investing in early learning was at the top of the list as a priority for our district moving forward.

We look forward to expanding our early childhood programming so students are given the best education possible before entering kindergarten. When we invest early, the research tells us that we will have a high impact on student learning in the future. I cannot think of a better way to invest in a community and school than through early childhood.

Here are some highlights from our Pine River-Backus early childhood programming in 2013-14:

• In the fall of 2013, we were awarded a grant called The Pathway II-State Early Learning Scholarships. With this added resource, we hired a part-time early childhood home visiting position that has been working with day cares and families that have not been accessing PR-B programming.

This extension has provided a bridge for families between home and school, as well as introduced new learning experiences to young students.

• Next, with our Pathway II Scholarships, we were able to provide tuition reimbursements to families and to our program budget for 2013-14. If awarded this grant for 2014-15, we plan to reduce fees for everyone on the front end, making preschool at PR-B affordable for all.

• Additionally, PR-B early childhood is pleased to be on the front edge of best practice instruction. Recently, we have committed to becoming a STAR (Strategies for Teaching Based on Autism Research) site.

The STAR Program is a comprehensive early childhood program that teaches students with autism and other developmental disabilities the critical skills to be successful. These skills were identified by the 2001 National Research Council.

The STAR program includes detailed lesson plans, teaching materials, documentation and ongoing assessments by our teachers. Students with autism and other developmental disabilities systematically master receptive language, expressive language, spontaneous language, functional routines, pre-academic skills, social interaction and play skills.

• Finally, PR-B early childhood has collaborated with some Backus Head Start classes to form a “Tiger Cubs” class. Staff from Head Start and School Readiness work with these students on Tuesday and Thursdays. Students are taught the essential school readiness skills

As you can see, we have a lot to offer in early childhood program at PR-B. If you are interested in learning more about our programming or would like information on next year’s early childhood options for you and your child, please contact the elementary office at 587-4447.