Corvallis Parent: Finding the Right Preschool, Classes for Parents and Kids, Civics Bee Deadline Approaches

Let’s start this week’s Corvallis Parent with a reminder; if you have a middle-schooler wishing to enter Oregon’s first Civics Bee, their essay will need to be in by Jan. 8.  

Oregon Business & Industry is sponsoring the event, saying, “Oregon Business & Industry is participating in the National Civics Bee because we believe that informed and active citizens make for a strong country, a strong economy and a strong workforce. We also believe that our continued prosperity depends on the strength of all three.” 

The contest, which offers cash prizes of up to $1,000, is open to middle-schoolers throughout the state. To participate, students must submit an essay of up to 500 words explaining how they would address a problem in their community. Essays should be submitted through the competition’s online portal. 

The bee’s top 20 essayists will be invited to Salem to participate in the Oregon Civics Bee’s May 24 quiz competition. The Oregon Civics Bee champion will be invited to Washington, D.C., to participate in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s National Civics Bee in the fall. 

The top three finishers at the Oregon Civics Bee will receive cash prizes. First place will earn $1,000, second place $750 and third place $500. The winner of the National Civics Bee will receive $10,000. 

And Now, we Editorialize for a Moment: If an educated citizenry is central to a functional democracy, then we have to say the discussion around public schooling focuses too much on college and career prep, and not enough on civics. 

And yes, we know it’s a business advocacy group sponsoring the Civics Bee, but let’s also remember, commerce – like many things – thrives best in a stable society that makes good decisions and is ruled by law. 

And this is where we at The Advocate start worrying. We commonly see folks leaving high school without even a basic understanding of how their society processes decision making, how their government works, and how the wider world outside our country navigates similarly or differently than we do. 

For example, over the years we have hosted many college freshman interns, and seen firsthand that too many are caught unaware of the jurisdictional interplay between cities, counties, and schools and the state. We’ve hosted debates where candidates for office and audiences cannot acknowledge what state laws permit city and county officeholders to do, or not do. 

Currently we’re watching in real time as folks armchair quarterback events in Gaza and Israel, even as they are often wildly inaccurate concerning both the region’s history and current affairs – or can’t even find either locale on a map.  

Of course, this isn’t a story about the Middle East, it’s a parenting column. 

And what we think we can all agree on is that however one may view our nation’s position in the world, the U.S. does have an outsized impact, and it is troubling that so many of our kids leave high school with little or no understanding of world history and present geopolitical issues. Neither do they understand why it is that here in Oregon, our City Council can’t enact a sales tax or its own local rent control ordinances. 

For the wellbeing of our children, our society, and the wider global community, we owe the next generation an education that’s fit for a voter. It’s worth remembering these students will be the torch bearers for the future generations we’ll never meet.  

Finally, we would also argue that once educated, folks need to stay informed, and that means having a vibrant and ongoing news industry – but that’s a discussion for another time. 

With our editorialization complete, let’s return to your regularly scheduled parenting column… 

Search Early for a Preschool: Wait lists have been long as of late, so most of the locals we’ve talked with suggest starting your search early. The other thing we heard is that not every preschool, even an exceptional one, is a perfect fit for every kiddo, so you’ll want time to check out the options on your own, along with more time later to swing by top picks with your kiddo.  

Also, to help you get started, we asked a few local education types for a checklist of what to look for in a good preschool – and most every one of them said to ask Brenda Daigle.  Brenda has years of professional experience in early childhood learning and care, she is the Director at Corvallis Community Children’s Centers.  Here’s the checklist she offered:   

  1. Be practical.  
  • Look at programs that have hours, prices, and a location that meet your needs.  
  • Right now, waitlists are lengthy so get added to several.  

      2. Do your homework.   

  • Visit a few places to compare.  One will stand out!  
  • Have a list of questions prepared to ask each place you visit.  
  • Make a note of a point of contact at each place so you can easily reference who you spoke with.  

      3. Take a tour and ask questions.  

  • Tour the center, meet the teacher and director, see the classroom, and take a peek at the playground.  If you can, join in on circle time and see how your child responds to the teaching style of the teacher.   
  • Watch how the teacher interacts with your child.  Do they get down at your child’s level?  Are they kind and compassionate?  Are they inclusive?  Do they seem to like their job? Are they happy and positive? Is the atmosphere cheerful?  
  • Ask about behavior guidance policies, pricing, how parents can be involved, family-oriented activities, philosophy on outdoor play, free play, teacher directed activities, and what you are expected to provide for your child (diapers, wipes, blanket, extra clothes, water bottle, etc.).    
  • Talk to the teacher about lesson plans and curriculum.  Does it look fun and engaging?   Do the other children in the class look like they are enjoying themselves?  Is there art posted in the classroom?  
  • Talk with the director about the process of enrolling, paying tuition, communication, safety precautions, newsletters, meals, outside activities, and how parents can be involved.  
  • If your child has allergies or needs milk/meal accommodations, discuss those and see if and how they can be accommodated.  

     4. Check references.  

  • You can check the records of Licensed facilities via an online portal.    
  • If you are looking at a nanny or family-home business, check references.  Even at a center, parents who have their children in care are good points of contacts.  

     5. Trust your gut.  

  • Go with the place that you and your child feel the most comfortable.   There will be one place that stands out and your child just fits into better than the others.    

Preschool for Free, Maybe:  if financing preschool is looking tough, Pollywog may be able to help.  They’re a local non-profit that’s partnered with other local social service organizations, public health and education, the Parenting Success Network, and area hospitals.  

They’re also partnered with Linn-Benton Community College – and we honestly love what they do around our fair little burg. Click here to visit the folks at Pollywog. 

Free SafetyNet, Smart Cyber Choices Class: Every time a child uses a smartphone, tablet, computer, or even logs on to a game, the door is open to a virtual world populated by cyberbullies, hackers, and even digital predators. The question is, what can you do to keep your children and the children in your community safe? It all starts with involvement and education. 

This program offers age-appropriate (K-12 and adult) presentations that empower participants to take the lead in internet safety topics including: 

  • Predators 
  • Sexting
  • Cyberbullying 
  • Plagiarism 
  • Privacy 
  • Computer security 
  • Identity theft 
  • Gaming 
  • Social networking 
  • Sex trafficking

Free, this program is offered by the ABC House, Wednesday, Jan. 17, from 5 – 6:30 pm. Click here to learn more about ABC House, and to register. 

Childbirth Preparation 

This course can be taken at any time, but it’s helpful to finish it a few weeks before baby’s arrival. This 4-week course helps expectant parents prepare for birth and early parenting. Parents can expect to learn about comfort measures for pregnancy, labor, birth, and the postpartum period. The overall goals of the course are to normalize the birth experience and increase parents’ confidence. It’s possible to perceive birth in a positive way, rise to the occasion, and adjust to whatever presents. 

This course includes information about: 

  • Anatomy and physiology. 
  • The mind-body connection. 
  • Signs and stages of labor. 
  • Patterns associated with normal and more complicated labor. 
  • Medicated and non-medicated comfort measures. 
  • Baby positioning strategies. 
  • Medical interventions associated with complications. 
  • Strategies for informed decision-making. 
  • Care of the birthing parent and infant during the first hours, days, and weeks postpartum. 
  • Hospital procedures related to infant care. 
  • Breastfeeding. 
  • Behavior of the infant as it relates to feeding, calming, and sleeping. 
  • Car seat safety. 
  • Jaundice, SIDS, ‘purple crying,’ and Post Partum Depression. 

Parents will be given information on local resources, books, videos, and websites.  

Classes are at the Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center, Tuesdays, 6:00-8:30 pm, Jan 9, 16, 23, 30, 2024. This class can be taken online or in person. Registration is required, and detailed location information will be provided for registration.  

Cost: $110* per pregnant person (partner included). If you have Oregon Health Plan insurance (IHN or Pacific Source), Your plan will cover this class at no cost to you. Please contact the Corvallis Maternity Coordinator at 541-768-6908. for details.  

To register contact Pollywog at 541-917-4884 or pollywogfamily.org.  

Live & Learn Creative Development Class: A one-day-a-week art enrichment class with an emphasis on creative activities. Learn how creative play and activities enhance your child’s development and growth. They do messy projects you may not want to do at home. 

This class is for parents and caregivers and their children 2 1/2 to 5 years old. 

Class meets on Thursdays, 9:30-11:20 am from January 11 – March 14, 2024, at the LBCC Benton Center, Room 109, 757 NW Polk Ave, Corvallis. 

Cost: $79 or *$44.50 for those who qualify. *Parenting Education Tuition Grant Application available within the Registration Form. Click here to register online. (Includes Tuition Grant application). For more information, email [email protected] or call Pollywog at 541-917-4884.