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Houston area school districts provide preschool and Pre-K (pre-k) programs to prepare students for success in kindergarten and elementary school. The mission of Pre-K programs is to offer purposeful and planned play in a safe, nurturing environment. From the introduction of letters and numbers to basic math concepts and recognizing simple sight words, many Houston elementary schools provide an excellent full-day, tuition-free Pre-K curriculum.
Some Houston area schools will accept young children starting at age three into preschool programs before they are old enough to qualify to enter a pre-kindergarten program. The Texas Education Agency states that children must be four years old on September 1 of the current school year to enroll in Pre-K4. Find more criteria for enrollment here.
Parents might begin their search for a preschool program for their child by searching for “preschools near me”, “pre-k near me”, “head start near me”, or “elementary school near me”. Location-based searching helps narrow down the closest Pre-K program for families. For the easiest way to find Houston elementary schools’ Pre-K program locations and the Head Start Program, start here.
All traditional public school districts in the nation are required to comply with specific educational standards, like the Common Core initiative. Texas schools, however, must adhere to the TEKs (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) state standards. These Texas standards apply to all grades (K-12), and they address the areas of mathematics, social studies, English/ language arts, and science, in addition to physical education, health education, technology, foreign language, and fine arts.
Parents concerned that their child may have developmental delays or limiting health conditions are encouraged to take advantage of early intervention services in public schools. These crucial statewide services help young children increase their chances of overall success in school by helping them catch up to other children their age. Through federal grants to the state, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides early intervention services and specialists to children who qualify for assistance at a low-cost or free of charge. The program services children as early as birth and until preschool age.
Early Childhood Intervention offers extremely valuable resources to families including:
Specialized Training and Coordination
ECI supports child development by offering skills and training to families. Specialized training and strategies help families support their child’s individual needs. Case managers assist families by connecting them to community resources and coordinating services.
Individual Specialty Services
Children who need special services such as physical, speech, and/or occupational therapy can receive support before elementary school. ECI provides access to speech and language pathologists, as well as physical and occupational therapists.
ECI allows children with behavioral challenges like ADHD to learn positive behavior skills. Children receiving behavioral intervention treatment become more successful in school and social situations.
Children can receive nutritional services including diagnoses of feeding or growth concerns. Dieticians connect families to local resources for healthy meals and nutritional supplements.
Parents can contact their local school district offices for more information about what services are available in their area.
Preschool and Pre-K children from age 3-5 have the opportunity to see a speech-language pathologist to be evaluated for speech therapy. Speech pathologists help identify a child’s need for special services.
In addition to early intervention and speech therapy, the Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities (PPCD) also provides services for physical therapy and occupational therapy, depending on the child’s individual needs. Before Kindergarten, a child’s early intervention testing and special education treatment plan is a free and highly beneficial service that all parents can take advantage of during the preschool years. Houston school districts offer a vast array of services in many locations to ensure all children in the area receive the services they need.
Houston Pre-K and preschool curriculum gives children a jumpstart on Kindergarten, which leads to a more natural and lucrative introduction to their elementary public school education. Parents are highly encouraged and welcome to take advantage of free special needs testing and no-cost early intervention in order to fully benefit from these special services.
The largest Pre-K program in the country is the Head Start program, administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Head Start programs serve low-income families to help close the socio-economic divide. The program aims to meet the emotional, nutritional, and social needs of disadvantaged children.
Early Head Start serves children up to 5 years old, while Head Start ages are between 3-4 years old.
Early Head Start and Head Start programs provide support based on the communities’ needs. Some of the highlights and benefits of these programs include:
Early Learning Experiences
Early Health Awareness
Early Family Engagement
Texas Education Agency- school district locator
School districts may charge tuition in order to provide half-day or full-day prekindergarten classes to those who are ineligible for free services. A full list of Texas school districts and their Pre-K tuition schedule can be found here.
Click here for a complete list of public Pre-K programs by city in Texas.
TEA provides additional information on Pre k programs in Texas:
Public school Pre-K programs help prepare children for a smooth transition into elementary school.
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