Bartonville mom opts-in virtual preschool

Local News

BARTONVILLE, Ill. (WMBD) — While the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many central Illinois childcare and daycare centers are open for in-person learning.

But that has some parents worried about health risks.
Still, some teachers believe, classroom time with others is important for a child’s early development. One mom working full time explains why she chose to enroll her daughter into a virtual preschool.

Amanda Van Dyke is a mother of two. She said she works more than 40 hours a week to make sure her 4-year-old daughter Olivia isn’t falling behind in school. She’s enrolled virtually at preschool for all. Olivia’s mother said while this option isn’t ideal, it’s better than doing nothing at all.

“She absolutely loves it. There are different activities. It’s not just looking at a screen,” Van Dyke said.

But Olivia isn’t the only child learning the basics from home. Preschool For All Director Jacqui Jones said Olivia is one of eight kids taking the virtual route.

“We don’t want them sitting in front of a screen all day,” Jones said. “We know that’s not appropriate. So what we try to do is just encourage our families to try and act like the teacher at home and just find everyday opportunities to teach within their environment.”

But Donna Ashely, executive director of Tazewell Woodford Headstart said online preschool could be a step in the wrong direction.

“Older ages, it’s so much easier to learn online, but with kids, we stress so much how they should develop socially and emotionally and that’s not something you can really do online,” Ashley said. “But talking about feelings, and sharing and how to play with friends is what is most important to learn before you go to kindergarten.”

Still, Olivia’s mother believes she made the right decision in an effort to keep her daughter safe, and she’s confident Olivia will succeed in kindergarten next year, with her classmates.

Preschool For All and Tazewell Woodford Headstart allows enrollment year-round. However, headstart in East Peoria is in-person only.

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