More than 20 preschools and childcare centers participated in the fair. ECMC Community Outreach Coordinator Lori Hutchton, mother to 11-month-old Aidan and 2½-year-old Ethan, called it the biggest turnout so far, to which she credits the bigger venue and rise in preschool awareness among parents.
"I know I'm more interested in preschool education now that I have a preschooler," said Hutchton. "This fair has been set up for convenience to pick a preschool for your child. I'm looking for a place where my kid will feel safe, have fun and learn the most."
Kelly Brown, with the City of Antioch Preschool Programs, said, "In choosing a preschool, parents need to know the philosophies of the program, and they have to be comfortable with them. To go public or private is a personal choice. Preschool is important for the child's emotional and social readiness for kindergarten. The kids can get ahead if they know the basics."
Marco and Lorena Vasquez are parents to 3-year-old Sara. "We're looking for something she will like," said Marco, "where she will be comfortable and learn in the spirit of fun."
"We're here to get all the information about preschools in the area, their prices and programs," said Lorena. "It's convenient to go around in one place than driving all over."
Studies have shown that 80 percent of brain development occurs before age of 5. Preschool makes the most of that absorbent time in children's lives by teaching them fundamental language and math skills. And kids who attend preschool are more likely to be better readers in elementary school and less likely to be held back a grade or need special education. Preschool programs can lay the foundation of social skills, knowledge and self confidence that paves the way for success in kindergarten and beyond.
"I know my child will do better if she goes to preschool than straight away to kindergarten," said Oakley resident Heriet Morning, mother to 3-year-old Kenna. "Since she's the only child, she needs to socialize with other kids - to learn how to wait and how to share and how to play nice. She can also start getting used to a classroom where I can't be with her all the time."
Brentwood preschools present at the fair were Wonderworks! Preschool (240-8217), Karen's Kids (634-8135), Childhaven Preschool (516-0856), ABC 123 Preschool (325-2381), Kinder Care Learning (513-4118), Smart Learning Center (516-5589) and Dainty Center Willow Wood School (634-4539).
Schools representing Antioch were La Petite Academy (676-4416), City of Antioch Preschool Programs (779-7070), Our Yard (754-2518), Sonshie Home Christian Preschool (757-2194), Little Angels Country School (754-7885), So Big Co-op Preschool (757-6474), Hilltop Christian Preschool (779-9297) and Heritage Baptist Academy (778-2234).
From Oakley, Little Wonders Preschool (625-5134), Imaginations Preschool (679-0566) and My Turn Preschool (625-1804) were on hand.
Also at the fair were Contra Costa County Community Services Head Start Free Preschool (646-5529) and Concord-based Five Little Monkeys Preschool, which boasts a live Web cam that allows parents to view their children from the workplace.