Research has proven that children who have quality early learning experiences fare better academically, behaviorally and socially well into the future. Access to high-quality early learning opportunities has been an issue for families across the country, so much so that President Barack Obama renewed his commitment to prioritizing access to high-quality preschool for the nation’s children during his January State of the Union address.
Detroiters have a variety of high-quality early learning options, including these five fabulous preschools in and around the city. The five preschools profiled here were identified by Excellent Schools Detroit for their strong commitment to quality.
Community-Based High Performer
- Address: 16060 Moross Road, Detroit
- Phone: 313-372-4012
- Ages served: 18 months to 12 years
Cassandra Rice and her husband have been in the business of educating young children for more than 13 years. They are the owners of Our Kidz World Learning Center, a preschool and child care center in Detroit.
“My mother was in the early childhood field for 40 years,” Rice notes. “I grew up in that environment. I’d help her. I loved the kids, and they loved me.”
Cassandra has her associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in early childhood education, and each member of her staff also has relevant early-learning education.
The family- and community-oriented school offers a learning curriculum tailored to each child’s developmental age. The school offers a weekly computer class, a monthly Music in Motion class and daily Spanish language exposure.
Our Kidz World is part of the state of Michigan food program. That means kids enrolled at the school receive breakfast, lunch and snacks – ensuring healthy meals are part of each student’s day.
Our Kidz also offers a number of community events and workshops throughout the year including Parent Night, where parents of students are invited to meet and greet each other and their child’s teachers.
“Parents will get updates from the teachers on how the kids are doing toward meeting developmental milestones,” Cassandra says.
Community partners provide enrichment opportunities to Our Kidz World students on a regular basis. For example, a local farmer brings in animals for the kids to touch and feed.
Our Kidz participates in the state’s child care subsidy program and has a three-star rating through the state’s Great Start to Quality tiered quality rating system.
“We’ve been recognized for high quality care and our dedication to exceptional business practices,” Rice says.
Quality Two-Generation Education
- Address: 4500 Cass Ave., Detroit
- Phone: 313-577-1686
- Ages served: 2½ to 5 years
The COE-ECC offers full-day preschool programs with up to a half hour of before-school care and up to two-and-a-half hours of after care.
“The school has been part of the community since the late 1950s,” director Placidia Frierson says. “We welcome many returning families. Some of our parents were themselves students at the school when they were little. Now, they’re enrolling their own children.”COE-ECC is known for its hands-on approach. Children learn based on individual interests.
For example, kids expressed interest in recycling, and a project was born.
“First we read the children age-appropriate books about recycling. Then we looked into what we would need to start a program and finally developed our own recycling center.”
COE-ECC is tuition based. Most kids in its two 16-student classes are eligible by family income to be part of the Great Start Readiness Program, which covers tuition. WSU undergrads who are Pell Grant eligible may also enroll their kids and receive tuition assistance. Some spots are open to families who don’t meet these requirements.
As a training center for the WSU early childhood education program, COE-ECC regularly sees student teachers rotate through the school. So in addition to the always-present lead and associate teachers, there may be up to three more teachers working with kids.
COE-ECC is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and is part of the Woodward Corridor Early Childhood Care Consortium.
Leading Lab School
- Address: 87 E. Ferry St., Detroit
- Phone: 313-664-2533
- Ages served: 2½ to 5 years
Since it was established in 1922, the MPSI ECC has served thousands of children. It’s nationally known and respected for its research and work in child development and serves as a demonstration, observation and practicum site for Wayne State University students in pediatrics, physical therapy, nutrition and education.
“This means that undergraduate and graduate Wayne State students rotate through as part of their graduation requirements,” explains Jamie Karagatsoulis, MPSI ECC director.
For example, nursing students come in for five days to administer the Denver Developmental Screening Test, a cognitive screening tool and assessment of gross and fine motor skills.
“This allows us to provide our families another service. Parents can sign their child up for the assessment and will be alerted if there are any concerns. This helps us catch kids who may have fallen through the gaps.”
Like the COE-ECC (see above), MPSI ECC embraces a project approach and Michigan Early Childhood Standards for Quality. Each classroom is staffed by a lead teacher certified in elementary education with an early childhood endorsement and assistant teacher with a Child Development Associate credential, early childhood-related associate of arts degree or 120 hours of documented, formal child care education offered by approved training organizations and Michigan Department of Education staff.
MPSI ECC has a five-star rating on Michigan’s Great Start to Quality tiered rating scale, the highest possible score.
Quality Comprehensive Services
- Address: 5273 Kenilworth St., Dearborn
- Phone: 313-581-3490
- Ages served: 6 weeks to 12 years
The M&M Early Learning Academy promotes a safe, healthy, nurturing environment where each child is free to explore and learn. The academy collaborates with Head Start to offer qualified low-income families a full-day Head Start experience. Low-income families who don’t meet the Head Start criteria may qualify for the M&M Early Learning Academy’s Children and Family Scholarship.
Accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the M&M Early Learning Academy offers a preschool program for 3- to 4-year-olds that’s focused on educating children in all development areas – language, physical, social, intellectual and emotional – through weekly themes, projects and play.
The pre-K program for 4- to 5-year-olds provides multiple and varied opportunities to develop phonological awareness, reading and writing readiness. Teachers help children develop concepts and skills in math, science, social studies and health through everyday activities.
The M&M Early Learning Academy has earned a four-star rating in the state’s Great Start to Quality program.
Check out the Excellent Schools Detroit Scorecard for each of these schools at scorecard.excellentschoolsdetroit.org.