Pandemic and preschool: What to know if you’re signing up your kids for the fall

PITTSBURGH — This is the time of year parents can start signing up for preschool in the fall.

It’s usually a rush to get a spot before they fill up. But if this is your first go-round with any type of school for your kids, you might have some questions about how it will work during a pandemic.

Studies, like one published in JAMA Pediatrics, have shown kids who go to preschool perform cognitively and emotionally better throughout their education and beyond.

Marlin Woods, a dad of four, says his youngest child, Marlin Junior, is part of this preschool program at the Learning Loft in Pittsburgh.

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“I would absolutely register now while you have the opportunity,” said Woods. “They provide a safe environment for our children and not only that, an environment that our children appreciate and love themselves.”

Research in an article titled “Corona pandemic in the United States shapes new normal for young children and their families” shows preschool enrollment fell last fall.

Executive director of Learning Loft, Daile Fradoski, says that for her reopening during a pandemic wasn’t that big of a transition because they already focus on things like sanitation and keeping kids healthy.

“We’re not sitting here telling children ‘don’t go near your friends, don’t touch each other.’ But we make it a game,” Fordoski said.

Learning Loft is a Pittsburgh Public Schools’ childcare partner. The district has 87 of its own preschool classrooms and registration just opened up for the fall programs.

If you’re wondering if your toddler will be ready for school in the fall, here’s what carol Barone-Martin, executive director of Early Childhood Education for Pittsburgh Public Schools, thinks.

“Between now and the fall, your child will mature quite a bit.”

Even if your child hasn’t been around many other kids recently because of the pandemic, Barone-Martin thinks preschool next school year will be good for them.

“They’re spending a lot of time thinking about social and emotional development first and how important that is, because the children have been isolated in most cases, and they really need that extra help to get into the classroom,” said Barone-Martin.

Pittsburgh pubic preschools are hoping to be at full capacity in the fall so they are not reducing the number of kids they enroll.