YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Making sure their children are prepared to get off to a good start in kindergarten is important to any parent, and for many, preschool is the place to get extra preparation.

In November, Yokota Yume Child Development Center began offering a part-day preschool program in addition to their normal day-care services. This is the first time the program has been offered on the base.

The goal of the program is to help develop children’s social skills and also prepare them for what they will encounter in school, explained Pam Frank, director of the Yume CDC.

Unlike regular day-care services, the preschool runs from 9 a.m. until noon on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The 24-student class, currently full, is open to any status of forces agreement children ages 3 to 5. The class ends in May.

Frank said if there is enough interest, they are looking to open up a second preschool on base at the base’s Kibo CDC.

The Yume CDC classroom is divided into different sections, including a classroom area, an area for reading and a place where students can play dress-up and pretend to be doctors, lawyers or firefighters, Frank said. Students also have their own personal spaces to store things like jackets and a favorite toy.

Providing children their own areas teaches them self-reliance skills they will need once they head off to kindergarten, she said.

Children also eat family-style meals with food being served at the table, so students learn the value of sharing and good table manners, she said.

The actual program curriculum is similar to what is offered in day care, Frank said, explaining that in both programs, the CDC staff tailors what they teach to the actual developmental needs of each child.

Frank said the program allows parents to attend monthly parent participation days at the school, as well as parent-teacher conferences. She also said the CDC would be offering a one-day class for parents each quarter.

"We try to educate parents as well as students," Frank said. For more information about the Yume’s preschool program, as well as other child care services, call 225-8810.

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