Funding needed for Ala. Pre-K program - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Funding needed for Ala. Pre-K program

The principal in Arab is trying to get more funding for her program. The principal in Arab is trying to get more funding for her program.

Alabama's Pre-K program has been touted as one of the best in the nation, although it's not available for many children.

The principal in Arab is trying to get more funding for her program. The Pre-K program in Arab starts kids off going to school at the age of four.

School officials said they believe in the program in that it helps kids become accustomed to school life earlier, which makes for a smoother transition into kindergarten. But unlike daycare, Pre-K has a certified teacher where kids actually begin to learn things like numbers, letters, and shapes.

The program in Arab started six years ago.

At first, school officials said it was hard to get kids enrolled, but once parents learned the benefits, they've had to go to a lottery system because they only have room for 18 children.

"I have to have a drawing in order to select children for the program.  We typically have 18 children in the program.  We usually draw nine boys' names and nine girls' names.  Unfortunately, this year we have a waiting list of 44 children," said Arab Primary Principal Leah Keith.

The program is attractive to parents.

"She can tell you her letters and letter sounds.  She's counting to 20 and starting to read," said Arla Shelton.

Shelton is just amazed at what her daughter, Kaylee, is learning in Pre-K at the tender age of four. After all, she's got a child in the second grade that did not already learn the things Kaylee learned.

"When she started kindergarten I had to do a lot of extra work at home, so I really wanted that extra boost for my younger one," said Shelton.

This is the fifth year for the Pre-K program at Arab primary where kids have a curriculum, instead of a daycare, with a certified teacher and aide. School leaders said it really prepares a student for kindergarten.

"They're used to the routines.  They know how to come and go.  They separate from their parents easier," said Keith.

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