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Idaho teachers weigh in on early education

President Obama wants to make preschool available to all children, regardless of family finances. The president wants a nationwide, publicly-funded, prekindergarten, and Idaho is one of only 11 states that does not require early education, including Montana, Wyoming and Utah. The 39 other states already offer state-funded pre-school education programs.

“We do a letter a week,” said Alese Oakley. “They’re on W already — they’ve gone through almost the entire alphabet.”

Preschool teacher Alese Oakley works with 1- to 3-year-olds at Acorn Children’s Academy in Ammon.

She said even though she works with toddlers, they’re familiar with what some students struggle with in kindergarten.

“You can see how well the kids are learning it and retaining it and I think they’re doing great with it (the alphabet),” said Oakley.

From reading, phonics, math and science, these preschoolers learn the same subjects taught in elementary school, just at a early level they can understand.

“There are a lot of standards that kindergarten teachers have to follow and you want to be sure that the kids are prepared for that,” said Sharon McGrath, Acorn Children’s Academy director.

President Obama says parents of all income levels should have access to the same quality education opportunities.

“The size of your paycheck shouldn’t determine your child’s future … so let’s fix this,” said Obama.

And for those in the business of educating young minds, they say they agree.

“These kids really do need to know a lot of things when they get into kindergarten so yes, I do think pre-school is very important,” said McGrath.

The White House hasn’t put a price tag on how much publicly-funded prekindergarten would cost, saying government investment at a young age pays off significantly down the road.

Families looking to enroll their children in preschool have plenty of options in the area.

There are handfuls of private preschools and some school districts offer public preschooling as well.

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