Connecting moms in Polk County, Fla.
My name is Jill and I just moved to Bartow a week ago. I have a son who will be 2 in June and we are expecting a second child in August. I'm looking for an early education center / preschool environment for him. We would really prefer a place that is non-religious. I am a full time stay at home mom but would like something for just a few hours a week for him to learn and interact with other kids. Ideally we'd like it to be in Bartow but I could also drive him to Lakeland if need be. Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated.
There is a website with a list of all the registered schools. I think it's on the Early Learning Coalition or DCF website.
I eventually put both my kids into pre-k in churches. There isn't much else out there for people who aren't Christian, or chose to keep religion separate from school. Even when a provider is not in a church setting, they may still use Christian based curriculum. You can sometimes look up the curriculum (or just ask what they use), and then Google it to learn more. My daughter attended a VPK in S Lakeland that was not in a church, and did not list a Christian based curriculum, yet they still learned prayers and religious songs. I wonder if someone said something to them, because I asked her to say her prayer before we ate one day and she said "we don't do that anymore".
In Lakeland, the Lakeland Montessori Schoolhouse would be my choice, but it's nearly impossible to get in. If you can afford paying for the pre-k, you can probably get in, but there is even a wait list for that.
I like the pre-ks that are inside of the public schools. You can find their info on the school board website.
If your child has any delays or if you qualify due to financial or hardship reasons, you can get into certain programs as well. My son was able to go to public school ESE pre-k for two years (OJ Pope and Scott Lake), and the year before kindergarten he transitioned into the school readiness pre-k at Medulla.
I know some of the favorites in town (I'm in Bartow) are Christian based. My older children went to First Methodist School and my sister used Redemer Luthern with high marks from her. My younger children went to Geneva Classical Academy for Pre-K4 which was an amazing experience. Geneva (also Christian based) was on 540-A and close to Bartow but has since moved into Lakeland. I think you'll have a tough time finding a pre-school curriculum that is not Christian based or predominately a daycare setting in town
I know there is a Bartow Educational Center (here's their google information page) but I know absolutely nothing about this business. I haven't heard good or bad.
Like Jmarr suggested (thank you, Jmarr!) do an inspection look up on the DCF website. Click this link to find inspection reports for childcare facilities by county.
Good luck and welcome to Bartow. :)
Thanks so much for your help! This is the first time doing this and being in a new area it's a bit overwhelming so your advice and comments are very much appreciated!
Thanks again and have a great day :)