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Preschool programs give little ones a strong foundation

Preschool has always been lauded as a vital foundation for a child’s early development, and two Claremont programs are shining examples.

The ABCs for Me and Tiny Tots Enrichment Programs are giving Claremont families the opportunity to give their child a crucial leg-up before being sent off to kindergarten.

The two programs operate on different schedules—ABCs for Me runs Monday through Thursday from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Tiny Tots runs a half-day program from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ABCs for Me operates from the Hughes Center, and Tiny Tots is at Lewis Park.

Both teach social and educational skills for children during an important part of their developmental lives, according to owner-operator Adetayo Akiwowo.

These aspects could range from social, emotional, cognitive and language abilities. “We have 10 main areas to focus on every other week, and we interchange them every two weeks to make sure we’re hitting the main areas in the curriculum,” Ms. Akiwowo, who is known to her students as Ms. Tayo, said.

The educators in the programs also help with basic human needs such as potty training, learning to share, how to tie their shoes, lining up after recess and walking safely from the playground back to the classroom.

“As adults we don’t see [these abilities] as a big issue, but to them it’s a big deal,” Ms. Akiwowo said.

The kids are separated into two different groups—one group contains two-to-three year olds and the other has four-to-five year olds. While the groups are separated by age, they foster a big brother-big sister mentality that helps kids become more confident and outgoing.

“The younger kids look up to the older kids, it’s so funny and so cute,” Ms. Akiwowo said.

Of the two programs, ABCs for Me provides more options, with five different time frames suited for many different kinds of families—an early-morning program from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., an all-day program from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., and two afternoon programs from noon to 7 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“We try to make it as flexible as possible,” Ms. Akiwowo said.

The main idea behind the programs, she emphasized, is to make children better prepared for kindergarten and beyond. Ms. Akiwowo told stories about how kindergarten teachers sometimes have a hard time getting children acclimated when they are not used to a school setting.

“I want my kids to be confident when they go in,” she said. “They already have a schedule they are used to when they are in preschool, and it kind of follows up when they go to kindergarten.”

“That’s one big huge help to them,” she added. “Having them academically ready is a big plus.”

Ms. Akiwowo took over the program in October 2010 after working for the city of Los Angeles as a senior director for school programs ranging from preschool children to teenagers.

The Claremont program received accreditation in 2013, and Ms. Akiwowo likened it to taking the program to, “another level to make it a better quality program.”

She also takes pride in making the program available and affordable for lower-income families.

“When I took it over back in 2010 from the city of Claremont, the prices were really high,” she said. “I was able to bring the prices down and make it affordable for families.”

The school partners with the city for a scholarship program, which cuts prices by as much as 50 percent based on a family’s income.

“[The city] puts us first in a lot of things, making sure the kids are okay,” she said. “The city has been really great in helping us.”

The regular prices are $780 per month for the all-day program and $480 for a half-day program.

More information can be found at abcformepreschool.com

—Matthew Bramlett

news@claremont-courier.com

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