Harlingen schools expanding access to pre-kinder classes

HARLINGEN — It shouldn’t be a disadvantage not to be disadvantaged.

That’s why the Harlingen school district is developing a program for all children to attend pre-kindergarten classes, even those who can afford to do so.


Not anymore. Until now, only children from lower socioeconomic households could attend pre-K classes.

However, the district is now creating a way for parents who make a good income to send their 4-year-olds to those same classes.

The district will hold an informational session for parents on Friday at the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District.

At the session, those parents will learn about a new tuition-based pre-K program. Through this program, parents will be able to pay a fee to send their children to pre-K.

“It’s going to be less than a private school,” said Lori Romero, director of elementary education. “I think this is going to be good for our kids. It will be a good opportunity for kids who don’t qualify for pre-K.”

The district is offering this opportunity to the community as an additional avenue to educate 4-year-olds, said Carmen Alvarez, early childhood specialist for the Harlingen school district.

Alvarez said she believed an additional 100 students would be enrolled through the program. They won’t require additional resources, classrooms or teachers.

“We’ll use the available space,” she said. “Some pre-K classes are not to capacity.”

This is no ground-breaking idea. The school district in Austin has been offering this kind of program for many years, she said.

Why is pre-K so important?

“The most learning that takes place in your life takes place in those early years,” she said.

The district has recently received accolades from for its pre-K scores.

Alvarez has attributed those successes to such resources as a new phonics program from Neuhaus Education Center.

Another resource, STEMscopes Early Explorer, uses modules to teach science, math and technology.

“We are STEM heavy,” Alvarez said. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

These are the sorts of educational experiences being offered to the district’s 4-year-old children regardless of income, even those whose household income is above the poverty level.


WHAT: Information session for tuition-based pre-kindergarten program

WHEN: Friday, 5:30 p.m.

WHERE: Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District

407 N. 77 Sunshine Strip, Harlingen

PHONE: 956-430-9500

Benefits of Pre-K education

Introduction to words enable to children to make connections at a much younger age between letters and sounds. This will lay the groundwork at a younger age for enhanced reading.

As part of this introduction to reading, children will begin building vocabulary. Learning vocabulary will facilitate better reading comprehension.

Children will learn early the connection between books and real-life experiences. For example, they can do science lessons and then go outside and look for insects feeding on plants.

Teachers can begin building math skills in children at a younger age.

Children will be introduced to school culture at a younger age so they’ll be adjusted to it when they begin kindergarten and first grade.

This initial introduction will reduce the “culture shock” some children experience, thereby making room for more learning.