By Benjamin Beane
Families can expect more out of Austin ISD’s prekindergarten program for four year olds this school year with 45 minutes of additional instruction.
“The extra 45 minutes means additional time for high-quality programming; hands-on learning experiences, exposure to literacy and learning through play,” said Nikki Demby, director of early learning.
Research shows access to full-day learning and low student-to-teacher ratios play helps prepare students for kindergarten. That's why Austin ISD is also adding teaching assistants to every classroom to ensure students receive more one-on-one instruction.
“Pre-K4 teaching assistants are a game-changer,” said Ortega Elementary Principal Jennifer Stephens. “This will mean more direct attention from the teacher and will promote student progress all around.”
Pre-K years are a period of rapid growth for a child. It’s when they learn how to interact with teachers, peers and others. A typical Austin ISD pre-K day, taught by certified teachers specially trained to work with young learners, includes time for social and emotional learning, math and science, and play-based curriculum.
“We believe that this additional time in high-quality learning environments will have a lasting impact on the overall development of children to include fewer special education referrals and behavioral issues, as well as increased graduation rates,” Demby said.
The new, aligned schedule will also help those who haven’t been able to utilize AISD transportation services. Instead of dropping off or picking up their child 45 minutes later or earlier than kindergarten through fifth grade student, their child can now ride the bus at the same time as their older siblings or peers.
“This will be more convenient for families and their daily routines,” Stephens said.
Austin ISD offers free pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds who are eligible, as well as tuition-based pre-K for students who don't meet the qualifications for district-supported pre-K.
Families can learn more about pre-K by texting "ENROLL" to 512-886-6434, or by visiting www.austinisd.org/enroll.