What age is preschool?
Two years prior to starting kindergarten is typically the age most children start preschool. Preschool programs, also known as Pre k or Pre-K, often set an enrollment minimum age of 3 years old. Parents and caregivers can spend a great deal of time researching if preschool is right for their child. Preschool can be seen as a way to jumpstart into kindergarten. Additionally, the benefits of Pre-K are compelling.
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Early Childhood Education
Pre-K and Kindergarten
Benefits of Pre K programs for students:
- Children in preschool and Pre-K programs are more likely to have a more natural, smooth transition into kindergarten and elementary school.
- Children with special needs in district Pre-K and preschool programs are identified earlier than those who wait until beginning elementary school. This allows them a head start for receiving services.
- Children ages 3-5 with disabilities are entitled to no-cost special services through ECSE (Early Childhood Special Education).
- Dual language learners and economically disadvantaged students benefit more from Pre-K than their more advantaged or English-speaking peers.
PreK Curriculum and Teaching Strategies
Traditional public school districts adhere to state guidelines and standards for all schoolchildren. Pre k curriculum and teaching strategies are developed and provided by educators and degreed child development experts. PreK curriculum is reviewed and assessed by the state’s education agency or education department. The pre-k curriculum must meet state standards set by the board of education.
Creating a Learning Environment for Young Children
Effective preschool classrooms are places where children feel well-cared-for and safe. They are places where children are valued as individuals and where their needs for attention, approval, and affection are supported. They are also places where children can acquire a strong foundation in the knowledge and skills needed for future school success.
- Young children need teachers who welcome all children to their classrooms. This includes children from various cultures whose first language is not English, as well as those with disabilities.
- Young children need teachers who take time to work with them individually, in small groups, and sometimes with the entire class. This helps them develop their cognitive and social skills, their language abilities, and their interest in learning new things about the world.
- Young children need instruction to develop the thinking, language, and early literacy skills needed for continued school success.
Effective preschool teachers and child care providers:
- Know when children develop new ideas and concepts on their own and when it is important to explain things to them step-by-step.
- Encourage children to participate in classroom activities and honor classroom rules.
- Listen to what children say and expand upon their language while building their vocabulary and background knowledge.
- Know when to teach directly, when to provide time for exploration and discovery, when to practice skills, and when to encourage creativity.
- Plan challenging activities that have a purpose.
- Know how to help children learn to work together to resolve their conflicts.
- Encourage children to respect each other’s time and personal belongings.
- Provide many opportunities for conversations among children and adults.
- Know how to establish and maintain order in a classroom but in a manner that permits the children to learn how to participate in and enjoy learning.
- Arrange the classroom in a way that enhances their work with children and how the children spend their time.
Pre-K3 and Pre-K4 Curriculum
Pre-K 3 Curriculum
Listening-Follow two or three step directions during activities such as setting the table, playing, or cleaning up. Have short conversations. Listen to stories and directions from adults. Play with friends.
Reading -Name familiar characters or events from books. Guess what happens next in a story. Participate in story time and choose their own books.
Writing- Make scribbles, line marks, and letter-like forms when asked to write. Use a variety of writing and drawing materials such as different types of pens, crayons, markers, or paintbrushes. Play with letter blocks, magnets, and other reading materials.
Speaking- Ask questions and wait for answers. Use many words when speaking about feelings, places, people, or things. Have conversations with friends and adults.
Describing- Talk about plants and animals and what they look or feel like. Talk about the weather. Go on nature walks. Play outside. Read books about plants, animals, weather, and seasons. Play with and talk about toy cars that go different speeds, balls that bounce at different heights, or bubble wands.
Counting- Count up to 10. Read books, sing songs, and play games that include counting. Play with a variety of objects that can be counted such as blocks or shapes.
Identifing Shapes- Name and create common shapes. Play with blocks of different shapes and sizes. Play with materials to make shapes such as play dough.
Fine Motor Skills – Squeeze small objects between thumb and forefinger. Draw shapes and write some letters and numbers. Dress and undress with little help. Play with clay and play dough. Use tools such as tongs, clothespins, or safety scissors. Write and draw with a variety of pens, markers, pencils, and crayons. Make art with materials of different textures.
Gross Motor Skills- Hop, skip, jump, and gallop. Climb jungle gyms. Ride a tricycle. Play games with a variety of movements. Play outside.
Emotions- Talk about emotions and feelings. Read books about emotions. Use puppets to role play emotions. Name characters’ feelings in books.
Health & Hygiene- Wash hands after using the toilet and before eating. Name body parts. Sing songs and play games that identify body parts such as Follow the Leader or Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes. Read books about washing hands, getting ready for school, or bed time.
Relationships with Others- Enjoy playing and talking with adults and friends. Learning Strategies: Play games in small or large groups. Read books about playing with friends,
Pre-K 4 Curriculum
Listening- Follow two or three step directions during activities such as setting the table, playing games, or cleaning up. Have conversations with expected words and responses. Play games with multiple steps. Play in large and small groups. Listen to stories and directions.
Writing- Use marks or letters to write Use writing materials in multiple areas of the classroom, such as creating signs in block play or grocery lists in the pretend play center. Write in a journal and make books or drawings with words.
Speaking- Ask and respond to questions. Use many words when speaking about feelings, people, places, or things. Have conversations with friends and teachers. Play games with friends. Read books out loud
Reading- Enjoy being read to and exploring books. Name rhyming words. Play games with multiple steps. Play in large and small groups. Listen to stories and directions.
Describing- Talk about the color, size, shape, and feel of plants, animals, and earth materials such as rocks, soil, or sand. Go on nature walks. Play outside. Grow plants and discuss their progress. Read books about plants, animals, weather, and seasons.
Counting- Count from 1-30. Count 1-10 objects, with one count per object. Sing songs or play games that include counting. Play with a variety of objects that can be counted such as blocks or shapes.
Identifying Shapes- Name and create shapes. Play with blocks of different shapes and sizes. Play with materials such as play dough and toothpicks to make shapes.
Comparing Objects Place objects from shortest to tallest or tallest to shortest. Use measurement words such as “taller”, “shorter”, “longer” or “smaller”. Play with objects that can be sorted and arranged such as blocks or figures. Play with and talk about toy cars that go different speeds, balls that bounce at different heights, or bubble wands that create different sized bubbles. Guess the length, height, or volume or objects such as buckets, fish tanks, or furniture.
Fine Motor Skills- Use tools such as forks, spoons, tweezers, clothespins, or paintbrushes with ease. Dress and undress without help. Draw shapes and write letters and numbers. Play with clay or play dough. Write and draw with different types of writing and art materials such as pens, pencils, paint brushes or crayons. Make art by tearing paper, using cookie cutters, or stringing beads.
Gross Motor Skills- Stand on one foot. Hop, skip, jog, jump, and gallop. Carry a bowl or plate of food from one spot to another. Play games with many movements. Help with meal times. Play outside.
Health & Hygiene- Wash hands after using the toilet and before eating. Name body parts. Sing songs and play games that identify body parts such as Follow the Leader or Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes. Read books about washing hands, getting ready for school, or bed time routines.
Relationships with Others- Enjoy playing with friends and adults. Initiate play and conversations. Have conversations with adults and friends. Play with friends. Read books about playing with friends, taking turns, or helping others. Have a classroom job such as a greeter, door holder, or line leader.
Emotions & Behavior- Talk about and name emotions and feelings. Follow classroom rules and routines with help and reminders from the teacher. Read books about emotions. Use puppets to role play emotions. Name characters’ feelings in books.
Head Start Program
The largest Pre K program in America is part of the Head Start program, which is administered by the Office of Head Start within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Office of Head Start grants funding and oversees the agencies that provide Head Start services, as well as training and technical assistance.
Head Start programs prepare preschool children for success in school by serving low-income families in order to help close the socio-economic divide. The program was designed to meet the emotional, nutritional, and social needs of disadvantaged children in a positive learning environment.
Early Head Start serves children ages birth to 5 years old, while Head Start enrollment ages are between 3 and 4 years old. Children who are 3 years old prior to September 1 are eligible to apply for Head Start. Families applying for Head Start services must meet poverty guidelines, and those receiving public assistance such as TANF are automatically eligible. Early Head Start programs are available to the family until the child turns 3 years old and is ready to transition into Head Start or another pre-K program.
Early Head Start and Head Start programs offer a variety of resources and support, depending on the needs of their communities. The programs cater to the cultural and ethnic heritage of each local Head Start family. Some of the highlights and benefits of these programs include:
Early Learning Experiences
Head Start children are introduced to language and literacy at a young age. They develop their social skills and concept understanding through relationships with others, planned and spontaneous play and instruction, and individualized learning experiences.
Early Health Awareness
Head Start children receive nutritious meals and health and development screenings. Families are connected with medical, dental, and mental health support. Children are allowed to explore and thrive in their environment in order to develop physical and motor skills.
Early Family Engagement
Head Start families engage in their child’s learning, therefore the parent-child relationship strengthens. The program helps parents achieve financial, housing, and educational goals with community support and guidance.
Learn more about pre-k benefits, special education, and neurodiversity, and early intervention:
Neurodiversity and Autism
What is the difference between preschool and prekindergarten?
The main difference between preschool and pre-k is the age of the children enrolled. Preschool tends to refer to children ages 2-3, and Pre-k is for older children ages 3-5.
Preschool and pre-kindergarten curriculums are very similar. They both promote learning using the technique of play. Play learning means that children participate in developmental hands-on activities that nurture their creativity, problem-solving skills, teamwork, communication skills, and more. Children learn introductions to math, art, science, and music through play.
What is Montessori?
Montessori schools aim to provide an environment of hands-on learning, while children are encouraged to focus on activities that they are most interested in.
Students who master certain skills may go ahead of traditional grade-level expectations, and those who aren’t yet prepared to move on can take more time. It is the student’s choice. (US News)
Public school Pre-k programs help prepare children for a smooth transition to elementary school.
Angleton ISD- Why is Pre-K Important?
All Angleton ISD Elementary schools offer pre-k programs. Pre-kindergarten teaches significant social, physical, emotional, and thinking skills, and it prepares children for success in kindergarten and beyond. Pre-K is a great place to prepare for kindergarten, and the curriculum includes introductions to blending letters, reading, socialization, and communication.
Alief ISD’s Innovative PreK Experience
Alief ISD’s innovative interactive pre-k program offers an exciting classroom environment where kids can fully engage with the materials in the room, the graphics on the walls, and different programs around the room. The program r gives special opportunities for kids to learn through hands-on experiences and interactive activities from program to program. Students learn through play as they complete activities together, socialize, and grow with one another.
Alamo Heights ISD
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