Columbia Public Schools offers a developmentally-appropriate education through which young children actively build their individual potential in a positive, nurturing, culturally diverse school family environment. Preschool is a federally funded program providing services to children with developmental needs, ages 3 to 5 (non-kindergarten) years of age. Services are provided at no cost to eligible children. Eligibility is determined through a developmental screening process.
The Columbia Public Schools Preschool program serves more than 600 children, with 28 classrooms located in elementary and high schools throughout the Columbia Public School District. Half day and full day options are available. This program is designed to prepare children for successful school entry. Active family involvement is required to help children achieve this success. An early childhood teacher and instructional assistant plan age-appropriate learning experiences to promote development in literacy, communication skills, decision making, and problem-solving skills. Teachers follow the High Scope teaching curriculum and a variety of other teaching resources to meet the developmental needs of each child.
Columbia Public Schools' early childhood philosophy is founded on the following principles:
- All children have the ability to become contributing members of society.
- Children learn through active involvement and engagement with materials and people in their environment.
- Children learn best when instruction is within meaningful contexts.
- Children learn and function independently when they are provided with a consistent routine.
- Children are motivated to learn when given opportunities to make choices and pursue interests.