Learning Ahead: Part 2

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South Dakota is one of only five states that does not help pay for preschool.

And when some families learn they can't afford preschool for their kids, they accept it and wait until kindergarten, but there are options.

There are programs here in Rapid City and across South Dakota that can help.

Tuesday night we'll meet a mother who sent her children to preschool thanks to one local organization in part 2 of our special report "Learning Ahead."

Huda Jabar and her family lived in the war-torn country of Iraq.

When things became unsafe, they moved to the United States seven years ago as refugees.

Jabar says she and her husband could not afford to send their kids to preschool, but thanks to a full scholarship from Starting Strong, they could.

Huda Jabar says,"That program helped us a lot and I'm very thankful for that because at that time, I was just like, 'What am I going to do?' These days you see not everybody can afford childcare or preschool for their children."

Jabar is a pre-k teacher at Fit N Fun in Rapid City... and says she understands the benefits of learning early on in life.

Huda Jabar says, "Yes, I've seen a major difference, especially in their academic life. I've seen them, their learning skills were fast. They didn't struggle with reading or writing. They were ready when they went to kindergarten. Even though their first language is Arabic, it made it so easy for them. They were ready when they went."

Jabar's children Zahara and Mohamed both received full pre-k scholarships from Starting Strong.

They are now in third and first grade at Pinedale Elementary -- and thriving.

Katrina Lim asks, "Do you think that preschool really helped you when you were in kindergarten and first grade and all that?"

Zahara Thegeel says, "Yes, because it helped me with my alphabet and my numbers and it just, and my shapes. It just really helped me to get ready for more grades because next year I'm going to be in fourth grade so it really helps me."

Katrina Lim says, "Some professionals say preschool helps children develop a sense of responsibility like teaching them to put away toys or books when they're done using them."

In addition to Starting Strong, a private organization, South Dakota also has Head Start - a federally funded pre-k program for low income kids.

So while early education is supported by both private and federal dollars, the state of South Dakota so far has voted not to pitch in.

Wednesday we'll see what's being done in the state legislature to help bring funding to early ed in South Dakota.

Plus how you can get involved as we wrap up our special 3-part report "Learning Ahead."