At IDEA Public Schools, we believe the road to college starts at a young age.
In order for our scholars to excel in advanced placement classes at the college preparatory level, they have to be fundamentally sound readers, writers, and mathematicians.
Three years ago, IDEA launched its Pre-K program at IDEA Pharr Academy. The mission: Place four-year-olds on the path to college with a quality Pre-K program.
“We saw the data explode—kids were responding,” Dolores Gonzalez, IDEA’s Chief Program Officer, said about the pilot. “They were beginning to learn the building blocks of literacy at 4 years old.”
Due to tremendous success at IDEA Pharr Academy, IDEA currently offers Pre-K at twelve campuses across the Rio Grande Valley, with plans to expand this innovative program for young learners across Texas.
Beyond fundamental instruction in reading, language, and math, our Pre-K curriculum also includes science lessons, field trips, and activities that promote the development of problem-solving and social skills. It’s a half-day program that lends itself to small, intimate learning groups with no more than 10 students per group. This allows teachers to devote plenty of personalized attention to each student, and also provide opportunities for re-teaching when needed.
At four years old, students are just learning how to be a student— asking questions, absorbing instruction, and cooperating with others. Our half-day program gradually increases the needed length of attention-span, so that, little-by-little, our Pre-K students develop the tools to engage with the material they’re exposed to, apply the knowledge they’ve acquired, and learn to work independently as they become ready for a full day of instruction as a Kindergartener.
The literacy component is a central focus of our Pre-K program, as it is the foundation to all content. Students will learn the sound each letter makes through game-and-activity-orientated lessons. If students can’t read, they certainly can’t solve a math word problem or grasp science concepts. Our Pre-K scholars are a perfect example of this. In fact, ninety-four percent of our young Pre-K learners finished the year completing kindergarten work! Sonia Aguilar, IDEA Pharr Academy Principal, is thrilled about the direction IDEA’s Pre-K program is headed.
“The kids are ready—they have the reading skills and the phonic awareness,” Sonia explained. “Our students are talking about college at four years old, and that’s just amazing.”
From the first day students set foot on an IDEA Public Schools campus, even in Pre-K, we instill in them the expectation that they will go to college. This expectation is woven in the fabric of everything we say and do.
IDEA pre-kindergarteners aren’t just talking about college—they’re preparing for it. The early years of education are some of the most important for students. A lack of a solid foundation leads to students falling behind later in their academic career. Our Pre-K program ensures our students possess the tools to grow each year in school and are prepared to start kindergarten strong!