MANCHESTER – A fun family event provided not only a variety of enjoyable activities but also served as an opportunity to register children for the township’s free universal preschool and kindergarten program.
The first Preschool Open House community event was held at the Ridgeway Elementary School. It also served as a free community resource fair featuring Touch-A-Truck, Bounce Houses, an ice cream truck, Manchester Library interactive reading sessions, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Township Police Department, Ocean County Sheriff’s Department, Manchester Township Soccer Association, YMCA, PTA and many other agencies and organizations.
Parents came out to meet the staff and learn more about the Universal Pre-school program which has limited spots available. The program is open to those children who will be 3 years old.
Christabella Fragoso, 2, will be attending pre-school next fall, her mother Xiomara Fragoso said. She and her daughter and 9-year-old son Christopher attended the Resource Fair event stopping off first at the car seat safety check operated by officers of the Manchester Police Department. “This looks like a fun event,” Fragoso said.
School District Director of Early Childhood Education Lori Burns said, “We have universe we have to fill every year and we base that on first grade calculations and at this point we are almost at capacity. Currently we have 125 regular education students. When you include special education students, we have more than that in our program.”
She added, “our preschool universe for this year is 225 of regular students and there are a few special education students. They can come to Ridgeway Elementary School, Manchester Elementary School or they can come to Whiting Elementary School. For this current year we did have an off-site. There was one class here at Ridgeway and one at MTES. We will have more classrooms at MTES next year.”
“Sometimes we have some students who have to go to Whiting because the classes are full and there are less classrooms for pre-k but we try to accommodate for students as much as possible,” Burns said.
She and other school staff members were wearing tie dye T-shirts while teacher volunteers were wearing bright orange t-shirts for the occasion.
“We have a lot of our pre-school teachers, teacher assistants, directors and our superintendent will be here, our school nurse here and everyone is helping out,” Burns added. She brought along her daughter Lila who said she was having fun.
Burns explained “in the pre-school program we have a position called the CPIS which is Community Parent Involvement Specialist Jessica Brosnan. Her role is to connect parents to all the resources and helping parents with anything they might need. She also helped organize this whole day.”
“We’ve been working on this for a few months. We started back in February,” Brosnan said.
Leading up to this event Early Childhood Education staff celebrated the Week of the Young Child (WOYC) from April 17-21. WOYC is a nationwide celebration of early learning, young children, their teachers, families and communities.
School district teachers and principals planned different events which took place each day and had a different theme.
WOYC kicked off with “Tasty Tuesday” which involved students and volunteers at Whiting Elementary who came together to create a tasty, healthy snack to enjoy.
“Work Together Wednesday” featured preschool students at Ridgeway Elementary creating STEM projects. This event had parent volunteers on hand to help. Students set out to build bridges and structures. To do this, they had to explore different materials and textures to come up with creative ways to build.
“Artsy Thursday” featured preschool students at Manchester Township Elementary School collaborating on art projects made out of recycled materials. Some students painted a recycled tire that they will use as a planter outside their classroom in a garden. Other students used recycled plastic drink bottles to create flower stamps to decorate their classrooms for spring.
The week concluded at Whiting Elementary School which hosted a Family Fun Carnival for families and students to enjoy.
The school district held a Preparing for Kindergarten Parent Workshop on May 3 where parents could register in person for Universal preschool and kindergarten To learn more visit manchestertwp.org/preschool/registration