REPUBLIC, Mo. — To respond to a growing city, Republic School District opened up an Early Childhood Center for families who are wanting to get their kids ready for Kindergarten.

Families had the chance to tour the new preschool Tuesday and meet teachers. First day for the preschoolers was August 22.

“Last week she was asking me all about insects that have antennas and was quizzing me on that,” Erin Wayt said. Her 4-year-old daughter just started pre-school. “She has loved every minute. She’s laying her outfits out the night before she’s ready to go in the morning.”

Like many other families, Wayt said it’s important for kids to get a head start on their education to help set them up for Kindergarten.

“Kindergarten is just a really big year for learners in so many ways,” Wayt said. “They’re learning everything from walking in a line in the hallway to how to eat in the cafeteria to writing their name. The earlier that we can get kids learning basic concepts and even just school routines I think is really important in preparing them for that.”

There are 250 kids enrolled in the Early Childhood Center with kids ranging from 3-years-old to 4-years-old. Parents can opt for a full day of learning or a half day. Classroom sizes range from 15 to 20 students with two teachers.

“Our goal is not just academically but also socially to get [the students] ready just so they can be successful in their education,” Director of Early Childhood Misty Kinsey said. “Then hopefully [students will] stay in our community and be those business owners and residents as well.”

Before the Early Childhood Center opened up, the district was relying on a handful of classrooms to house 90 pre-school students. Voters approved a bond issue back in April 2021 which paid for the new pre-school to be built.

The district also has a growing Special Education population. Kinsey said ten to 15 percent of the pre-school’s students require Special Education services. There are designated therapy classrooms, along with speech pathologists to help students who need it.

Right now, the pre-school is full. The district said there is a waiting list for parents who are interested in enrolling their student.