Students who attend high-quality pre-k are better prepared for kindergarten

September 30th, 2015

by Katrina Brooke

By Angela Hill

Few know the benefits of a high-quality, pre-kindergarten education more than a kindergarten teacher. We see the results as early as the first day of a new school year.

This year marks my 20th year of teaching, and for the last 19 years I’ve been blessed to be a kindergarten teacher.

I can truly say that since my very first day in the classroom, my job has been a gift from God. I have always loved working with children. From a very young age I wanted a vocation that would allow me to make a difference in their lives. Being a teacher has been a natural fit.

Over the last twenty years, I’ve had hundreds of smiling faces and sweet personalities to brighten my day. I’ve laughed daily and received untold amounts of joy from my students’ excitement when they begin to understand what they are learning for the very first time.

A lot has changed since I first started teaching. We’ve raised the amount of rigor and increased our expectations for what every student must be able to do by the time they enter the first grade.

Students who participate in a high-quality pre-k program are more experienced in the classroom

Never before has it been more important for students to enter kindergarten ready and eager to learn.

Unfortunately, many children do not arrive in kindergarten with the skills they need in order to be successful.

What may seem like basic knowledge is in fact a learned skill. Through play, young children increase their vocabulary while building social, literacy and motor skills.

From knowing how to hold a pencil, to how to stand in line and follow directions from someone other than their parents, students who attend pre-k are far better prepared on the first day of school than those who do not.

Academically, students who participate in a high-quality pre-k program are more experienced in the classroom. They are more likely to know their colors, shapes, how to count, and the letters of the alphabet.

In addition, pre-k alumni have experience socializing with other children. They have developed important social skills such as sharing and taking turns. They are also less likely to be disruptive in class.

My school provides an excellent pre-k program, taught by certified teachers, at no cost to parents. Preschool students participate in fun activities such as singing, arts and crafts, dancing, and playing games. As I’ve observed time and time again, the learning is endless and fun.

It is a shame that not every student is as lucky as the ones who attend First Class Pre-K at Arab Primary.

While I know that not every pre-k program is high-quality, it is a relief to me to know that the students who attend Alabama’s state-funded First Class Pre-K program are receiving the nation’s highest quality early childhood education possible.

I encourage every parent to ask their preschool of choice if their program is a First Class classroom, and if not, how they provide a high-quality learning environment for their students on par with the state’s program.

Giving your child an opportunity to foster of a love of learning in a high-quality pre-k program before starting kindergarten is one of the greatest gifts a parent can provide.

My hope is that our state will one day be able to allow every family the opportunity to enroll their children in Alabama’s voluntary First Class Pre-K program.

AL.com readers are invited to participate in an online roundtable discussion about high-quality, voluntary pre-k in Alabama hosted by AL.com the Alabama School Readiness Alliance and VOICES for Alabama’s Children on Tuesday, Oct. 13, at noon. Registration is free and open to the public. Join the conversation at http://bitly.com/PreKWebinar.

By Angela Hill, a National Board Certified kindergarten teacher at Arab Primary School. Mrs. Hill also runs a two-hour workshop for parents of upcoming kindergartners entitled “Transitioning from Preschool to Kindergarten.” During this workshop Mrs. Hill informs parents about the kindergarten curriculum and provides suggestions for how parents can ensure their children are prepared to attend kindergarten.

Angela Hill.jpg

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