With offerings from sign language to computers and drama, preschool programs in Greater Cincinnati have come a long way from the babysitting services we used to think of for this tender age. The area offers part-time programs in churches, half-day Montessori classes, and full-day programs that tout advanced curricula and the ability to keep children engaged.

Today’s parents want programs that stimulate their children and provide opportunities for them to learn, both academically and socially, so that they will have the best chance of success when they head to grade school.

“There is definitely an increased awareness of the importance of the early years and how that time is, basically, the most active for children’s brain development and gaining the skills and foundation for future learning,” explains Sallie Westheimer, executive director of 4C for Children, a local non-profit preschool coordinating and information agency that’s funded by the United Way, the city of Cincinnati, state agencies and donations. “So to the extent that parents understand this more, they’re looking at providing support

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