Eureka Springs preschool program seeks higher enrollment

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Eureka Springs ABC Preschool has several open spots.

Lead teacher Tiffany Slone reported that the program currently has 29 kids and can accommodate up to 40 kids. Those spots need to be filled, Slone said, because the ABC program is funded based on how many children are reached. Superintendent Bryan Pruitt said the program is run by the Arkansas Department of Human Services and fills a need in the community.

“We want to make sure we have the opportunity for all our kids here,” Pruitt said. “If we don’t grow, if we don’t fill these slots provided to us by ABC Preschool … we lose them. We’re at a point where we may lose up to five spots. Once you lose those, they’re gone.”

“That’s five kids we can’t help,” Slone said.

To fill the spots, Slone said, the school will host an enrollment event in March. Pruitt said he hopes more families sign up for the program.

“I understand it’s kind of competitive. There’s a program in Berryville and also one in Holiday Island,” Pruitt said. “But what we have here is a nice transition. When the kids get ready for kindergarten, they’re already used to this environment and what goes on.”

That’s the whole idea of the program, Slone said. She described how the program works, saying it runs from 7:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Eureka Springs Elementary School building. The program is income-based, Slone said, so it’s available for all families in the community.

“By coming to the program, it really prepares the kids and gets them ready for kindergarten and gives them that step up,” Slone said.

Slone said the program uses the same math program Eureka Springs students learn from kindergarten to 8th grade. Other lessons include reading, writing, the five senses, science experiments and even sign language, Slone said.

“We do pumpkin volcanoes in the fall, so we learn about acid and chemical reactions,” Slone said. “We also learn about pumpkins and how to grow them. We do tons of science experiments.”

Slone continued, “Right now, we’re learning about our community helpers, so the kids get to dress up like firemen and policemen. We have members of the community come in and read stories to them. They get to explore and figure out what’s in the community besides just them and their family.”

For 5-year-old Hazel, dress-up is the best part of preschool. Hazel said she loves Slone’s two hamsters, and 4-year-old Claire said she loves learning about animals at school. Working with the kids, Slone said, is always rewarding.

“There’s never a dull moment in pre-k,” Slone said. “You get hugs and cuddles all day long, and you get kids excited about going to school.”

Parents who enroll their children in the program, Slone said, should feel confident in that decision.

“Those parents know the kids are getting a great education. If they can come here and know their kids are getting that free education and are in that safe space,” Slone said, “they can go to work and not worry. Parents don’t have to worry about sending kids to daycare. They can send them here.”

This year, Slone said, she’s had a few students return for a second year.

“Those kids are already reading with me. They’re writing. They’re really ready for kindergarten, and that’s because they’ve come for a second year with us,” Slone said. “We’re doing everything we can to have them be successful in kindergarten instead of struggling.”

Students can enroll any time, Slone said. She asked parents who are interested in the program to stop by Eureka Springs Elementary School for the application. For more information, call the school at 479-253-8704.

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