Why is pre-K so important?

Posted in on March 31, 2022

There has been a lot of talk about pre-K around Arlington recently. And for good reason.

But it’s not just because Arlington ISD just announced free pre-K for all 4-year-olds next year. Or that it’s adding STEM to an already fun, outstanding pre-K curriculum.

The reason is that pre-K is so critically important.

It gets children ready to learn, teaches important social and emotional skills and fosters the development of verbal skills and self-control. Pre-K students get a jump start on reading and are usually ahead of their peers who wait until kindergarten to start school.

“Research demonstrates that high-quality preschool education can substantially increase children’s chances of succeeding in school and in life,” said Dr. Jackeline Orsini, Arlington ISD’s director of early childhood learning. “It helps build a strong foundation for kindergarten and sets them up for greater success in many areas of life.”

That’s exactly what Arlington ISD’s pre-K programs are designed to do. They inspire creativity and exploration in three- and four-year-olds and prepare them not only for kindergarten, but for their entire educational journey.

Here are just a few of the reasons why pre-K is so important for every child.

1) Inspires Learning

Pre-K provides opportunities for children to learn in ways that interest them. Arlington ISD’s pre-K programs promote curiosity, creativity and exploration. Children are encouraged to make decisions, ask questions, think and solve through purposeful play.

“We help pre-K students build a strong literacy foundation and excitement to continue learning,” Orsini said. “Our early childhood teachers make learning fun by integrating a variety of games and activities, music, physical movement, arts, read-aloud stories, technology and dramatic play.”

Pre-K STEMAnd next school year, Arlington ISD is taking its pre-K curriculum to a whole new level with STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). STEM in pre-K is all about hands-on discovery. It’s messy fun that brings learning to life. It’s about exploring and trying new things. It sparks questions and curiosity and gives kids the chance to pursue that curiosity and find answers to their questions.

 2) Supports Social and Emotional Skills

Arlington ISD’s pre-K helps children learn how to take turns, listen to others without interrupting, follow directions and express their emotions appropriately. Teachers often teach students songs that help them convey what and how they are feeling.

“Pre-K sets the foundation for children to learn how to communicate what they are feeling and how to cope with it,” said Mary Eldredge, the librarian at Kooken Education Center, Arlington ISD’s all-pre-K campus.

Pre-K also helps children learn how to take care of themselves. They learn how to wash their hands, eat by themselves and even keep their personal belongings organized. They learn how to be responsible while also being respectful of others.

 3) Creates Community

Community is crucial for early development. That’s why it’s so important to create activities where children learn while interacting with their peers. Examples include asking students to work together to set the table for snack time or to gather materials for an upcoming activity.

In this environment, children learn to problem solve, work together and communicate with each other. They learn how to collaborate with their peers and become a member of a small community.

“It is our role as educators to build a strong foundation for the growth of our children and equip them with the skills to be kind and compassionate people,” said Kim Higbee, pre-K teacher at Little Elementary. 

 4) Kindergarten Ready

Pre-K graduates are “kindergarten ready,” equipped to start their educational journey on the right foot. Studies show that children who attend pre-K are 54% more prepared for kindergarten than students who did not.

“Pre-K students have an opportunity to practice the foundation of colors, shapes, letters, sounds, numbers and counting” said Starrett Elementary kindergarten teacher Allison DeBusk.

Pre-K student develops math skills“Having these foundational skills when they come to kindergarten definitely helps them with their confidence from the beginning and lets them feel successful. Both of those are so important in children and in building their foundation for learning.”

Children also develop physical coordination and fine motor skills in pre-K. They get many opportunities to work on control of their fingers through art, hands-on- activities and many fun projects.

So, when kindergarten comes, they are ready!

6) Long-term Benefits

Pre-K doesn’t just get kids ready for kindergarten. It sets them up to be successful throughout their academic careers and beyond.

Studies show that students who attend pre-K are three times more likely to be proficient readers by third grade, which is essential in determining long-term success in school.

“Pre-K students have increased vocabulary, literacy, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. They are more likely to be high school graduates and earn higher wages in the workforce,” said Nadia Azari, Arlington ISD early childhood instructional specialist and a former pre-K teacher.

Ninety percent of a child’s brain is developed by the time they reach six years old, according to the Buffett Early Childhood Institute. So, this is the time. Giving 3- and 4-year-olds rich, fun learning opportunities stimulates their developing brains and builds their mental foundation for their entire future.

“Now we know that stimulating brain growth long before kindergarten can have a massive impact on her future education, her future earnings, and even her future health,” wrote Matthew Hansen of the Buffett Early Childhood Institute.

Enroll Tomorrow

Set your child up for success in school and throughout their future. Enroll in Arlington ISD’s best-in-class pre-K.

Registration opens tomorrow, April 1. To enroll and learn more about Arlington ISD pre-K, please visit aisd.net/prek. And check out this video to see what a day in pre-K is really like. You can also enroll in person on April 5 at any Arlington ISD elementary school from 5-7 p.m.