Why does prekindergarten matter?
Attending high quality prekindergarten makes a big difference for small children. Children who go to high-quality 3- and 4-year-old prekindergarten enter school ready to learn and be successful, confident learners.
What does high-quality mean?
High-quality prekindergarten provides a learning environment that inspires curiosity, builds confidence, and fosters a love of learning. In high-quality prekindergarten, children learn essential skills for being successful in school like:
- Paying attention
- Following 2-3 step directions
- Learning lots of new vocabulary words for objects and ideas that help them to comprehend what they read and hear
- Learning the ABCs and the sounds associated with each letter
- Learning how to read and write short words including their name
- Learning numbers from 1-20 and counting
- Sequencing, sorting and problem solving skills that will help them with reading and math
- Following daily routines
- Taking turns, sharing and appropriately communicating with others
- Building strength and coordination of muscles for academic and nonacademic activities
- Asking questions
- Seeking answers
- Building confidence as learners and a positive relationship with school
Kindergarten Readiness Statement
TEA supports high-quality prekindergarten that is developmentally appropriate, multi-sensory, and experiential. Young children thrive when provided a learning environment that inspires curiosity, builds confidence, and fosters a love of learning.
Children are "ready" for school when families, schools, and communities work together to ensure they enter school with strong foundational knowledge and skills across 5 primary domains of development. Although separate, these domains are interconnected and development in one area reinforces development in the other. The primary domains of development are:
- Physical – Gross and Fine Motor
- Literacy – Reading and Writing
- Mathematical – Concepts and Thinking
- Language and Communication
- Health and Wellness
In order to provide high-quality early childhood education that is focused on the unique needs of each child, student progress monitoring and kindergarten readiness should be measured across multiple domains of development.
Together we can ensure that every child in Texas thrives!
To find out if your child is eligible for free public 3-and 4-year old prekindergarten, see the state eligibility criteria.
For more information about state-funded 3- and 4-year old prekindergarten, see 3- and 4-Year Old PreK FAQ.
NEW Resource! Parent Guides
Strong family engagement in early childhood programs is central to promoting children’s healthy intellectual, physical, and social-emotional development; preparing children for school; and supporting academic achievement in elementary school and beyond.
One way to promote strong family engagement is to equip families with tools to enhance and extend their child’s learning. These Parent Guides have been created to help families understand some of the things their child will learn each school year. These resource documents have been developed for Prekindergarten 3, Prekindergarten 4, Kindergarten, 1st Grade, and 2nd Grade and may be distributed to families at various times during the school year, including:
- Beginning of school year and/or back-to-school events
- Family conferences and/or home visits
- When a new child enrolls in your class
- End of school year in preparation for the following year
- Family engagement events and activities
Use these documents to spark conversations and increase families’ knowledge on how they can support their child at home.
Prekindergarten Three-Year-Old Guide (Spanish version)
Prekindergarten Four-Year-Old Guide (Spanish version)
Kindergarten Guide (Spanish version)
First Grade Guide (Spanish version)
Second Grade Guide (Spanish version)
Free Developmental Screening Tool
Act Early Texas! provides parents and early childhood professionals with information designed to determine if a child is developing similarly to other children his or her age. The tool is designed to answer the question, "Is this child's development like other children of the same age?“
CLI Engage for Parents
For over ten years, the Texas School Ready project has been supporting prekindergarten teachers in our common goal of improving children’s “school readiness”—the foundational knowledge children need to be prepared for Kindergarten. Through the new CLI Engage platform, we are excited to provide opportunities for parents to participate in the Texas School Ready! project too!
Start Smart Texas
Start Smart Texas builds on research to empower parents to help with their child’s success. The goal of this initiative is to empower parents with tips that inspire positive interactions between caregiver and child to promote healthy brain development, early literacy and reading skills. This statewide initiative is dedicated to promoting and improving reading skills. Statewide organizations and local community groups work to build an evidence-based strategy and network of organizations that will work together to increase reading proficiency rates across the state.
Updated Prekindergarten Guidelines
In fall 2015, TEA established a 13-member review committee consisting of classroom teachers and administrators from early childhood programs in public schools, higher education faculty, and early learning experts from across the state to participate in the revision of the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines. The revised prekindergarten guidelines are aligned with the Kindergarten Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), sequenced to follow child development and give teaching strategies for each of the guidelines. The new guidelines offer educators the information and support to prepare all children for success in school.
Developmental Guidelines - 0-5 years old
Published in 2013, the Texas Infant, Toddler, and Three-Year-Old Early Learning Guidelines describe expectations about what children should know and be able to do across developmental domains of learning during specific age ranges, as well as what steps caregivers should take to support healthy development.
Preschool, Head Start and Childcare
Looking for high-quality prekindergarten in your area?Free 3- and 4-yr-old Public Prekindergarten
Many elementary schools in the state
offer free public prekindergarten to eligible 4-year-old children (some offer 3-year-old prekindergarten as well). Go to
your closest elementary school or district administrative office and to
obtain more information or contact Howard Morrison at TEA at firstname.lastname@example.orgHead Start and Early Head Start
Head Start and
Early Head Start programs support the mental, social, and emotional
development of children from birth to age 5. In addition to education
services, programs provide children and their families with health,
nutrition, social, and other services. Head Start services are
responsive to each child and family's ethnic, cultural, and linguistic
heritage.The Texas Workforce Commission- Childcare Assistance
Parents who work, attend school or participate in job training may be eligible for financial assistance with child-care. Learn more on the Texas Child Care Solutions website.Tips for Parents
These tips for parents give advice on topics ranging from bullying to water safety. Included are tips for children of all age groups – babies, toddlers, kids, preteens, and teens, plus quick video tips. Kids' Activities
Looking for something for your kids to do? Download these games and activities. They're fun, and they teach your kids some important lessons.2-1-1
2-1-1 Texas is a program of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission that provides a registry of resources and services by zip code. It is committed to helping Texas citizens connect with the services and resources they need. Square Meals
The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is a federally assisted meal program that provides lunches to more than 3 million Texas children in school and residential child care institutions. The NSLP serves nutritious, low-cost or free lunches to students in public and non-profit private schools in Texas.Texas Women, Infants and Children
WIC offers tips on breast feeding, formula and food packages that are based on the latest nutrition guidelines. The WIC food packages offer fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk, yogurt, and baby food in addition to cereal, eggs, juice, peanut butter and beans. Overall, WIC offers a variety of foods to help you make smart choices for you and your family. Childcare Licensing, Health and Safety of Children and Elderly
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) works with communities to protect children, the elderly, and people with disabilities from abuse, neglect, and exploitation. It also works to protect the health and safety of children in daycare, as well as foster care and other types of 24-hour care.
Children with Disabilities
In Texas, school district Preschool Programs for Children with Disabilities (PPCD) provide special education and related services for eligible children with disabilities ages 3-5. PPCD refers to the services provided by the school district, not to the place where they are provided. Eligible children may receive PPCD services in a variety of settings such as pre-kindergarten, resource, and self-contained classrooms or in community settings such as Head Start and pre-school. Learn more HERE.DADS - Texas Department of Health and Human Services
DADS offers home and community services for children with disabilities. Services may include medical care through Medicaid, attendant care in your home or modifying your home to make it easier for your child to live in. These services may be different than what is available through your local school district or other state agencies. Early Childhood Intervention
In Texas, children between the ages of birth and 36 months can receive services from Early Childhood Intervention ("ECI") if their children need additional support to meet developmental milestones in areas such as language, motor development, adaptive behaviors such as feeding, or learning and play skills
Texas Attorney General’s Office– Division of Child Support
As the official child support enforcement agency for the State of Texas, the Office of the Attorney General provides services for parents who wish to obtain or provide support for their children.
Preschool, Childcare and other Services2-1-1
2-1-1 Texas is a program of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission that provides a registry of resources and services by zip code. It is committed to helping Texas citizens connect with the services and resources they need. Texas School Ready
Texas School Ready! website
The Texas School Ready! program certifies early childhood programs across the state of Texas that demonstrate effective preparation of their students for kindergarten.
To find a Texas School Ready! certified classroom in your community, visit the Texas School Ready! website.