ROUND ROCK, Texas — When it comes to childhood education, some say, kids should start the sooner than later.
At Anderson Mill Elementary School in Northwest Austin, singing in a pre-kindergarten class can also mean learning.
“It’s not just babysitting, this isn’t some expensive daycare.,” Principal Trana Allen said. “Kids are learning and teachers are working hard.”
The school is one of thirteen Round Rock Independent School District campuses now providing a full day of pre-kindergarten.
“I joke and say pre-K teachers and kindergarten teachers are going straight to heaven,” Allen said. “They aren’t going to have to talk to Peter or anyone else at the gates. It takes patience, it takes organization, it takes energy.”
These schools have high populations of low-income students. Four-year-olds qualify if they meet one of the follow criteria:
- Qualify for free and reduced lunch
- Child does not speak English
- Child is homeless
- Parent is active duty military
- Child is or has been in foster care
- Child of a person eligible for the Star of Texas Award as a peace officer, firefighter or emergency medical first responder
“It gives us an opportunity to see if there are any special needs that need to be dealt with early on,” Allen said. “If there’s a speech need, if there’s a behavior need.”
Participating parents believe their children are getting a better chance at developing the skills they need to succeed throughout their education.
“Within two weeks my daughter’s vocabulary not only expanded, but her enunciation and pronunciation, it was like two different children,” Dawn Pulsoni-Schramm, a Round Rock ISD parent said. “My son just started pre-K today actually and it’s a full day program now. I can’t even imagine what the change in him is going to be like.”
The expanded hours also means more time for fine arts and physical education for the kids.
“(My daughter) actually cried the first three-day weekend, because she didn’t want to have three home days, she wanted all school days,” Pulsoni-Schramm said. “So coming from a 4-year-old, that’s pretty big.”
Round Rock ISD said the pre-K program is also helping parents save on childcare and stress less about work scheduled and even go back to school.
“Now that my little guy is in pre-K, I’m planning on going to nursing school,” Pulsoni-Schramm said. “I want to be an RN in the neonatal ICU.”
Half Day PreKindergarten - 7:40 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. to 2:55 p.m.
- Brushy Creek
- Old Town – Dual Language
- Pond Springs
- Purple Sage
Full Day PreKindergarten - 7:40 a.m. to to 2:55 p.m.
- Anderson Mill
- Caldwell Heights
- Double File Trail
- Forest North
- Joe Lee Johnson
- Union Hill
- Wells Branch