Early childhood education programs – preschool/pre-K programs that focus on children under age 6 – give children the foundation that they need for lifelong learning. These programs not only teach fundamentals such as the alphabet, numbers, shapes, and simple vocabulary, but they also help children develop the emotional and behavioral skills needed to interact with other children and adults in a classroom setting.

Early learning programs provide the building blocks upon which learning is based and help instill the knowledge that these building blocks can be used to solve problems and achieve goals. Pre-K programs give children a jump start in academic achievement by showing them how to be students.

Fortified by more than 1,500 emails and in-person rallying of support by concerned citizens just like you, the Memphis City Council and the Shelby County Commission have passed a joint ordinance to establish a program for need-based pre-K. This is an important first step in ensuring that all of our community’s children can start kindergarten ready to engage with the curriculum and on the path toward academic achievement and graduation success. 

What we must do now is make sure that sufficient funding is allocated to implement the program, and that’s where you come in. Join us at the next Momentum Memphis-MICAH Education Task Force meeting on April 1 and help develop an action plan to secure the funding for this vital initiative.

Let’s make sure that kids in Shelby County have the tools that they need to successfully complete their educations and go where they want to go in life.

That’s how much time my 2nd and 3rd grade classes have read over the past 8 weeks during our literacy challenge at Hull Jackson.

Children with a strong reading background are able to keep up better in other subjects. Reading helps with critical thinking skills and better prepares students to engage in work that requires great focus and clarity.

In the classroom, I take steps to promote the discussion of books. I read the books that they do, like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. We also like to watch the movie version of a book after the students have read it. This is a fun way to see if our visualization of the story was similar to what the director, cinematographer, and screenwriter showed.

It’s important to take reading outside of the classroom too, and I work with parents throughout the year to support their child in reading. For busy parents like myself, I suggest listening to books on CD in the car, and then hitting the pause button to discuss the story.  

Encouraging reading through our literacy challenge this year has had students discussing books more than video games or other entertainment. We have had so many exchanges that I am adding a book report wall for students to recommend a book to a classmate.

Every child, with the proper support, can become a strong reader – and each of us has a role to play. Join me in helping to close the reading proficiency gap in our homes and communities.

I made the decision to relocate my family to Nashville from Texas to find quality education options for Gianna and George.

Now in 1st and 3rd grade, I see the growth and opportunities they had because I enrolled them in a Pre-School program. Being around other children regularly gave them social skills, exposed them to other walks of life, and taught them how to manage conflict on their own.

Gianna’s favorite part of Pre-School was having responsibility for herself and her work. She was expected to do homework, learn songs, and do other things (somewhat) on her own, which gave her a sense of independence.

Enrolling in a quality Pre-K program requires time and money, but I can’t say enough how important it was to have our children learning at a young age. In April, I’ll be going through the process again for my youngest child during MNPS Pre-K Enrollment Week.

Join me in doing the research to find and apply for the early education program that is best for your child. Together, we as parents in Nashville can advocate for quality early education programs to become even more accessible to ALL families.

Parent member, Velithia J. Pendergrass, shares her experience of enrolling her daughter in Metro Nashville Public School’s pre-K program.  

I entered my daughter, Timora, into the Metro Nashville Public School (MNPS) early enrollment lottery this year and she was accepted at Ivanetta Davis Early Learning Center. This is actually the 2nd year we tried the lottery since she did not get into the school I wanted her to last year when she was 3.

First, I went to my local enrollment center and followed the steps to complete the application through MNPS. At which point, Timora received a student identification number. From there, we selected the schools that were of interest to us, we ranked from most to least interested, and then we waited.

I made sure all my i’s were dotted and t’s were crossed by the time enrollment came around this year. I was deliberate about researching possible school of interest and being prepared by the time enrollment opened. I made sure to apply on the first available date.

My favorite part of the pre-K program at Ivanetta Davis Early Learning Center is that Timora is allowed to explore her academic interests at an early age. Her favorite part is a center called “Dramatic Play,” where she enjoys housekeeping. She practices sweeping, fruit washing, food preparation, and other practical life skills. Timora says wants to be a chef.

I think that it is important for parents to understand that early education is of great importance and identifying how your child learns is crucial to their long-term success.

Pre-K and other similar programs jumpstart that process. This, to me, is most important. Pre-K helps identify where a child is in their development and shapes their educational path toward success. 

Quality early-learning programs improve outcomes and narrow gaps.
Research shows that high-quality pre-K programs (which may include state pre-K, Head Start, and other early-learning and development programs designed to foster young children’s early development and learning to support school readiness) can help compensate for socioeconomic disparities and improve school readiness and later educational and life outcomes.
Click here to begin the process of quality pre-K program enrollment.