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Earliest Learners: Preschool Screening Registration Open for Tiger Paw

Ozark resident Jessie East knows the importance of early intervention when it comes to a child’s emotional needs and brain development — she’s witnessed it firsthand through her son, Alex.

Through participation in Parents as Teachers, East said the in-home teacher guided the family toward Tiger Paw Early Childhood Center after noticing Alex exhibited some special needs.

“I was amazed to learn about the Tiger Paw structure in that they have so many comprehensive services in one building,” East said. “They are set up to really serve the whole child and to provide support education and guidance for the parents and caregivers. In the short amount of time Alex has been attending Tiger Paw, we have seen tremendous progress, not only in the areas where he has demonstrated need, but in other areas as well. He’s being provided with opportunities to develop self-confidence and learn new skills.” Tiger Paw Teacher Sarah Shivler works with students Claire Nations, right, and Briley Rogers.

Tiger Paw Teacher Sarah Shivler works with students Claire Nations, right, and Briley Rogers.

Ozark School District wants to ensure all children have the same opportunities as Alex, which is why Tiger Paw Early Childhood Center Director Laura Eakins encourages parents to have their preschool-aged children screened.

“Recognizing learning deficiencies and intervening early has powerful effects on student achievement,” Eakins said. “It’s much easier for students to ‘catch-up’ when they are just beginning rather than having to learn later on.”

Tiger Paw Early Childhood Center, located in the brick building next to the Ozark School District Office on Fourth Avenue, is home to Ozark’s youngest learners. Walking through the doors, you would never know the building houses five different programs, each interwoven to create the Early Childhood Center. The structure of integrating multiple programs is vitally important for early childhood.

“We ensure that we meet each student at their level of need and development by weaving multiple programs together,” Eakins said. “This integrated structure provides students every opportunity to reach the common goal of being ready for kindergarten.”

Children who live in Ozark School District may be eligible to attend one of the Early Childhood Preschool programs, and can participate in a free preschool screening. Slated March 19-22, screenings are open for children who will be 3 years old on or before July 31, and children who are 4 years old.

“Research shows investing in children early on has a large return on investment and cost savings in terms of services and interventions in the long run,” said Jeff Simpson, executive director of special services.

In addition to early academic and cognitive interventions, early childhood education helps children improve their social and emotional skills, language skills and adaptive skills, which ultimately helps to better prepare them for kindergarten.

“The curriculum used across all programs at Tiger Paw provides children with a strong foundation in language and literacy within a play-based learning environment,” Eakins said. 

To schedule a preschool screening appointment, call (417) 582-5992.

Preschool Screening dates