AURORA, Colo. — More than half of American children, ages 3 to 5, are not attending preschool. But, a group of teachers is getting creative to bring preschool right to families’ front doors. The You Be You preschool bus is a mobile preschool that is traveling to neighborhoods where kids wouldn’t, otherwise, be able to get to school.
“We're looking at science standards, social-emotional growth, learning standards, fine motor skills,” said Amber Ford, a teacher at the school.
The mobile preschool is the first teacher’s co-op in Colorado.
Its aim is to open up access to early education for low-income families, which is especially needed now. The pandemic created a huge drop in preschool enrollment in nearly every state across the country, but Roya Brown knew her mobile preschool could help combat that in her community.
“A lot of people talk about equity and, and, and nobody knows what really equity means. To me, equity means this: being accessible and being affordable,” said Brown
This preschool parks in low-income apartment complexes throughout Colorado. The bus is partnered with the Aurora Housing Authority, which funds the school, to make this completely free to families. It takes away the reason many families don’t take their kids to preschool.
“The problem is, is transportation. Not everybody has reliable transportation or any transportation. So, if you don't have that, so it doesn't matter if anything is free, you just don't go and get it, you know,” said Brown.
At the mobile preschool, there are fewer barriers. Students learn their letters and how to count, but more than that, they learn independence.
In just a few months, teachers have seen incredible growth.
“It's transformational, both for the kids and for teachers,” said Ford. “The confidence that they have with handling their business and being little humans is phenomenal.”
The National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University found the pandemic wiped out nearly a decade of rising preschool enrollment. Nearly 300,000 kids dropped out of preschool programs last school year, and spending on preschool went down by $254 million dollars nationwide.
That’s why Brown is hoping more cities can set aside the funding to start more mobile preschools around the country.
“We would gladly help them because we would like to see this expanding. We all want to impact the next generation,” said Brown.
This summer, the bus will be open to more children, including older students, for a summer reading program because this team is determined to make this bus stop just the beginning of an incredible education.
For more information on the You Be You mobile preschool, click HERE.