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
There are specific expectations and requirement for high-quality prekindergarten programs that can be found on the HQPK page.
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.
Is Your Child Eligible?
To find out if your child is eligible for free public 3-and 4-year old prekindergarten, see the FAQ page.
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 Tools
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?“
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also provides helpful information about numerous key development milestones that parents can look for with their children.
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!
The Texas 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 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). Contact your closest elementary school or district administrative office and to obtain more information.
Head 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.
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, Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) is a state and federally mandated program for young children with disabilities ages 3-5. Eligible children with disabilities, ages 3-4, are entitled to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B, Section 619 in the least restrictive environment (LRE) in accordance with their individual needs. Children who meet eligibility criteria may receive Early Childhood Special Education services in a variety of settings such as a prekindergarten classroom, in the home, or in community settings such as Head Start and preschool. For resources and support, visit SpedTex.org, the Special Education Information Center for Texas.
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.
Other Services and Resources
Books Beginning at Birth
Books Beginning at Birth is a statewide program that provides young children birth to age 4 and their families access to books and resources to support the development of early literacy skills and foster a love of reading.
- All families can access an open library of hundreds of high-quality digital children’s books accompanied by videos and at-home literacy activities.
- Young children residing in opportunity zones are eligible to receive FREE print books sent to their homes or through a partner site in their community (subject to some restrictions, and limited supplies).
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
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.