Students learn how to learn in Montgomery Pre-K program

Published: Nov. 2, 2015 at 1:37 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 10, 2015 at 2:15 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - It's been said the most important academic grade for students is pre-school. In fact, research shows pre-kindergarten programs are critical to children's long-term success.

Montgomery public schools is putting its focus on preparing students before they start school. To make sure they succeed long-term over their academic career.

"The overall premise of this facility is to provide the vital foundation for our 4-year-olds to be ready to begin school," says Tara Carr, the Director of MPS McKee Pre-k program.

Every aspect of the facility, especially the classroom, is designed with 4-year-olds in mind.

"Our classroom is very child-centered," teacher Tiffany McCrary explains. "It allows the child to self regulate. They get to move freely throughout the classroom, plan and make their own choices, which makes them very self sufficient."

Pre-K is more than academics, it also puts a lot of focus on building socially and emotionally independent students. "We have our cozy cube," says Mollie Huggins, a Pre-K teacher. "They can come in here, they can self regulate, they can learn how to calm down, get it together, and then they can come join the group."

The learning at McKee Pre-K goes beyond the walls of the classroom.  The school has partnered with EATSouth to work with students to build an outdoor garden. "This is an extension of what we do in the classroom," Dori Sippial says the lessons in the garden tie in to what students are discussing in the classroom.

"They are able to get out here and dig in the garden, we have child-sized tools," explains teacher Debbie Petty. "They plant seeds, they help weed, they know about the watering process."

Of course this is not the only partnership it takes to help a child succeed. Pre-K educators stress the process has to begin at home in order for it to work at schools.

Currently there are nearly 500 students enrolled in Montgomery's Pre-K programs. To be eligible, students must be of the age of four on or before September 1st.

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