Five Reasons Online Pre-K is Worth it
Pre-K is the beginning of a child’s educational journey. It’s about getting children ready for kindergarten through purposeful play, fun songs, hands-on exploration and interaction with others. It’s about inspiring curiosity and building confidence.
But can all that happen if Pre-K is online? Is online Pre-K even worth it?
For the first time ever, three- and four-year-olds in the Arlington ISD are embarking on their educational journeys completely online. Due to COVID-19, Arlington ISD is starting the school year virtually and will offer an online option to any who prefer it for the entire school year.
“As educators, we all know that there is no better option than face-to-face instruction,” said Dr. Jackeline Orsini, Arlington ISD director of early childhood learning. “However, we have been preparing all summer for virtual Pre-K, and we are ready to deliver the best online early childhood learning experience possible.”
The district’s online Pre-K is going to include live instruction every day, plus small group activities, circle time, art and lots of fun experiments.
“Exploration and creativity will be embedded in all the lessons,” Orsini said.
So, yes. Arlington ISD’s Pre-K online will be well worth it!
Here are five of the many reasons online Pre-K through Arlington ISD will be a fantastic educational experience for our youngest learners.
1. Online Pre-K will still offer high-quality instruction
The instruction won’t change just because it’s online. The program will continue following the Texas Education Agency’s Pre-K guidelines and expectations and will use the district’s
comprehensive early childhood instructional model, which is enriched by using Frog Street Pre-K curriculum.
“We have carefully planned a curriculum that includes a combination of virtual and hands-on learning opportunities for our students,” said Dr. Hildelisa Díaz, AISD early learning coordinator.
Through daily live and recorded lessons, teachers will provide meaningful learning experiences to all students, opportunities for active exploration through thoughtfully planned activities and differentiated instruction to meet the needs of all learners.
“Teachers will be able to model what instruction looks like for the skills being taught at home,” said Nadia Azari, AISD early childhood instructional specialist. “These ‘how-to’ lessons will serve as guides for students and families.”
2. Online Pre-K will inspire curiosity
Pre-K teachers, who are creative by nature, are designing lessons specifically to promote exploration and inspire curiosity.
“Lessons and activities must be engaging and intriguing enough to stimulate curiosity,” said Ken Foster, AISD early childhood instructional specialist. “One of ways we’re doing this is by using the classroom and home environments as ‘virtual labs.’”
Foster explained that teachers will broadcast lessons from their classrooms or home and show students how they can turn their own homes into a perfect setting for exploration. The teachers will draw connections and demonstrate activities that pique curiosity about a particular topic. They will model activities, art projects and fun experiments that kids can do with materials they have at home, like toys or things in the kitchen.
“Behind the scenes, all of our Pre-K teachers and staff are working very hard to make online instruction effective and engaging for our little ones,” said Serena Webb, Berry Elementary Pre-K teacher. “We are finding creative ways to extend real classroom learning experiences to our students in their homes.”
3. Pre-K teachers are prepared for online teaching
“Our certified teachers received significant amounts of early childhood professional development hours during the summer in early childhood learning and are now well-prepared to deliver high quality online instruction,” Orsini said.
But it’s not just the training that has Pre-K teachers ready to teach online. It’s who they are. Pre-K teachers are dedicated to their students and will go to any length to inspire them.
“Pre-K teachers teach Pre-K because they have a passion for young children,” said Kelly Schrader, Pre-K team leader at Miller Elementary. “They eat, breathe and sleep Pre-K. The way that Pre-K teachers deliver quality instruction is different than any other grade levels. Make up a silly song and do a crazy dance? Of course, we will! Read a story with all animated voices? You bet we will! Just because we will be doing online instruction will not change the love we have for early childhood education and the extra steps we will go to make our students feel engaged, encouraged and excited for learning.”
4. Pre-K students will interact with their teachers and fellow students
Pre-K students may be at home, but the Pre-K program will transport them virtually to school and make them feel like they are part of a class. They will see and interact with teachers and classmates in daily live and recorded sessions. Though strangers on the first day of school, they will quickly get to know each other and become friends.
“There is nothing better than getting to see your students and teachers face every day,” Schrader said. “The love that Pre-K teachers and their students have is indescribable. Even though virtual Pre-K looks different than in-person Pre-K, the daily interaction is so very important.”
Interaction with teachers and classmates – even in the virtual classroom – cultivates growth, understanding and confidence. Foster explained that students perceive value and worth through their classroom community.
“This establishes a good foundation for learning. The student is much more interested in what their teacher says if the student feels valued,” Foster said.
5. Paper packets will supplement online learning
Paper packets with activities to supplement online learning will be available for each unit. Parents will pick them up at the campus before the beginning of a new unit and use them in conjunction with online learning.
“These packets are thoughtfully planned out to extend online learning and reinforce material learned virtually,” Schafer said.
It’s going to be a great year in Arlington ISD Pre-K no matter what! Whether it’s online or in-person, the teachers are ready and eager to inspire our youngest learners!