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Families with preschoolers in the northeast area of Houston will have a new option for the upcoming school year, as HISD is set to add to its portfolio of Pre-K options with a new Early Childhood Center in the North Forest neighborhood, located on Mesa Drive just north of Tidwell.
The new Pre-K facility was specifically designed to enhance the educational experience of the district’s youngest learners, an effort that HISD has been building on over the years.
“This is a really special project,” said Principal Kimberly Agnew, who served on the project advisory team that designed the school. “The building is focused on the needs of early learners, and we’ve incorporated features throughout that cater to them.”
For more than two decades, HISD has provided Pre-K classes for Houston-area 4-year-olds, and currently offers full-day Pre-K instruction at 155 campuses, as well as nine early childhood centers. Registration is now open for Pre-K classes across the district for the 2016-2017 school year.
“The benefits of Pre-K are many,” said Janice Dingayan, HISD’s manager of early childhood education. “It’s not just daycare. Our certified teachers use an engaging, interactive curriculum that is fun for kids and lays the groundwork for their academic success.”
Through research-based, age-appropriate curriculum that incorporates hands-on learning and interactive games, children learn to recognize and identify letters and numbers and develop an understanding of written and oral communication, which they need to become strong readers. Pre-K also enhances their social skills through guided play time and opportunities to learn how to work and cooperate in groups.
“HISD is committed to offering a high-quality Pre-K experience at no cost to families who qualify,” Dingayan said. “All pre-K programs in the district provide a nurturing environment that is developmentally age-appropriate and designed to prepare children for a successful school experience.”
Tuition-based Pre-K is also available for students who do not meet the eligibility requirements to attend prekindergarten for free. Parents with children who will turn 4 on or before Sept. 1, 2016, are encouraged to complete the online registration.
The North Forest early childhood center, which is currently located at Fonwood Elementary, will feature 27 classrooms, including two special education centers, specialized visual arts and science labs, and a large learning commons area. The design plans incorporate vibrant interior colors with plenty of natural light, and feature three outdoor play areas and an outdoor learning center. Construction will be completed in time to welcome students in August.
Agnew said the school emphasizes the importance of learning to read with the goal of helping students develop an appreciation for reading, which will benefit them throughout their lives.
“Our four- and five-year-old students are already reading. When they get to third grade, they’ll be on grade level,” Agnew said. “We prepare kids academically, but also socially and emotionally. They’re learning and don’t even realize it. There’s no substitute for Pre-K.”