Mom, I want to go to preschool too!
Little Iva has her three favorite places in her neighborhood. The nearby market, where the kind saleswoman always gives her a piece of chocolate while her mom is not looking. The fountain near the town monument, where she often feeds pigeons with her grandpa. And her dream place. The courtyard where every day a group of kids plays, runs and swings. Then they go together into a little house where a nice lady greets them. Once, while her mother was talking to her friend, Iva heard that her dream place is actually called – a preschool.
Iva actually never understood completely what children do in preschool, but it didn’t matter to her. Every day she would stand by the colorful courtyard gates and watch them laugh and play with that nice lady, wishing she could join them. Sometimes they would even sing together or the nice lady would read them stories like Iva’s mom would to Iva. And when children’s parents would come to pick them up, children would show them some colorful papers and yell “Look! Look what I draw!”
What was on those papers? Who is that nice lady? What are they playing?
Every day, Iva would have more and more questions.
Once, the group of children even organized a musical play. Everyone cheered for them and the nice lady hugged all of them in the end. That day Iva wished more than ever to become a part of their group.
“Mom, I want to go to preschool too!”
“I am sorry Iva. But, there is no space for you in the preschool”, mom answered sadly.
“But, why? Marko is there every day!”
“I know Iva. But, the preschool is very small and there is simply not enough space for all children from our town.”
Iva just looked down sadly.
Unfortunately, like Iva, many children in Serbia do not have access to preschools. Precisely – every second child.
Even though it has been scientifically proven that the investment in early education pays off multiple times, Serbia has one of the lowest participation rates of children in preschool education in Europe. The preschool capacities are still below the EU average, despite the increase of 30% in the past 6 years.
Children gain a lot from going to preschool because they become exposed to numbers, letters, and shapes there. But, more importantly, they develop social and emotional skills and learn how to get along with other children, to share and to contribute. Findings show that children who attend high-quality preschool enter schools with better pre-reading skills, richer vocabularies, and stronger basic math skills than those who do not.
So let’s make some space in preschools for Iva and other children in Serbia together!