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Choosing between a Private preschool Pre-K and a public school T-K can be a difficult decision. Both offer various options with their advantages and disadvantages. Here is what I see in both programs.

Pre-K is offered in a private preschool setting, with teachers educated in Early Childhood education. Many are an extension of a preschool where children from 2-4 have their first preschool experience, with all day of half day options.

The class sizes are smaller in Pre-K, with individualized curriculum. Smaller child to teacher ratios are seen, as this age requires a 1-12 ratio in accordance with state regulations for preschool programs. 

Pre-K offers a varied curriculum, exposing children to concepts such as printing, phonics, math and science. The learning tends to be hands on, an approach valued in the early childhood community. Preschools will offer dress-up, art, music and free play in conjunction with an academic component.

Parent community at preschool tends to be connected as the number is smaller.

Public school T-K originated as a way to bridge the gap for children who did not have access to private preschool. The biggest pro is that it is free, saving families money and giving disadvantaged children a better start to their education.

Children are also seen to have a smooth transition to kindergarten by attending the same school for T-K. They know the campus and have a comfort level seeing familiar faces.

T-K has larger class sizes, up to 24 children with one teacher, as they are classified as elementary education. There is less individualized attention and limited curriculum, with a focus on academic learning as opposed to learning through play.

The teachers are elementary educators, not studied in early childhood education. This shifts the direction and outcomes.

It has been documented that T-K programs struggle greatly with meeting the physical needs of children who need a diaper/pull up change or have potty accidents. 

It is a big choice, and every family has their own criteria. These are the observations. Always respect every family’s choice.

Debbie Ficarra