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Pre-K Palooza 2023
Posted in , on July 20, 2023

Free backpacks and fun

“I’m nervous, Mommy,” whispered a 4-year-old girl getting ready to start pre-K at Ashworth Elementary School.

She was standing in line with her mother at Arlington ISD’s annual Pre-K Palooza waiting for assistance with pre-K registration. The Palooza’s free backpacks, free books, dance music and fun games hadn’t convinced her yet that starting pre-K was a good idea.

But her mother knows it’s the right thing.

“She is starting pre-K for the first time, and I wanted to make sure I jump through every hoop that I need to jump in so she’s ready for school,” she said.

Pre-K Palooza 2023That’s exactly what Pre-K Palooza – held yesterday at Adams Elementary – was for. Arlington ISD’s early childhood learning staff, along with several pre-K teachers, helped families get their 3- and 4-year-olds as well as kindergarteners registered for school. There were also games, snow cones, free school supplies, high fives from the early childhood mascot and a bunch of community partners with important information and resources for families.

While it was a fun event, Dara Cunningham didn’t have to be there. She’s a pre-K 3 teacher at Fitzgerald Elementary, and she’s still on summer break. But she and fellow Fitzgerald pre-K teacher Alex Castillo believe it’s so important to get every 3- and 4-year-old into pre-K.

“I just wanted to come help,” Cunningham said about volunteering to help parents with registration.

“Pre-K is a foundation,” she said. “We compare it a lot to building a house. If you don’t have the foundation, your structure is off. It’s super important for pre-K children to be in school to start learning about school, making those connections and building on what they need to know for their life.”

Pre-K Palooza 2023

That’s really what pre-K is about – building those skills the kids will need for their entire educational journey.

“It’s social skills, academic skills and language,” said Ana Biederstedt at Pre-K Palooza. Biederstedt is a 12-year pre-K teaching veteran who is now an instructional specialist for the district’s early childhood learning department.

“Pre-K is not just an opportunity for little ones to learn the basics, from early literacy, math, social studies or science,” said Dr. Jackeline Orsini, Arlington ISD’s director of early childhood learning. “It’s an opportunity for kids to start talking with other kids, socialize, develop those communication and social skills that are so important before they start learning the basics of literacy or math.”

Those are the kinds of skills that the soon-to-be Ashworth student is about to learn. And lucky for her, she’s going to learn those skills by having fun. That’s because Arlington ISD’s innovative pre-K curriculum is built on play.

“Through music, through movement, through our STEM program, kids get an opportunity to explore, to create, to socialize, to have fun, to laugh – but at the same time they are learning as well,” Orsini said.

Missed Pre-K Palooza?

If you missed Pre-K Palooza, that’s ok. You still have time to register your child for pre-K.

But don’t wait.

“I highly recommend to parents to register their kids as soon as possible,” Orsini said. “Because in the weeks leading up to the first day, you want your focus to be on helping your little one get ready.”

So, get all the registration stuff – the documents and forms – done as soon as possible, so your only focus is on making sure your child has a great start to school.

Plus, you have to be registered to attend the meet-the-teacher event, which is really helpful for 3s and 4s. It’s good for them – and you – to see the school and meet the teacher before the first day.

You can start the registration process online now. Then it can be completed in person at the school. Dates and times for in-person registration are posted here.

If you have any questions about pre-K, please feel free to contact the pre-K team at (682) 867-9418 or