Access to pre-K for Spanish-speaking children

Here’s an interesting article about the barriers to getting Latino children into preschool.

I work at a school with a significant Latino population, but in the beginning, when my program was added, I attracted mostly native-English speakers.  Slowly, parents at the school with younger children learned about my classroom, and each year I have more and more children whose first language is Spanish.  (Why oh why did I study French in high school?!)

I’m always proud to send them on to kindergarten, knowing that they will do very well, and that they are much better prepared than their peers.

Ana Solano, who immigrated from Mexico five years ago, was unaware of the importance of early childhood education until the home-based visits began for her 4-year-old daughter, Ana. She said she immediately noticed a remarkable difference between Ana and her older son, Juan Carlos, who had struggled in kindergarten. “I just thought he would pick everything up in school. With Ana, I see how much it helps and how much better off she will be,” she said.
I hope that with a new administration in office, early childhood will get increased funding and attention, and ALL kids who need it, will get access to high quality preschool programs.

8 thoughts on “Access to pre-K for Spanish-speaking children

  1. Are you at a private preK?

    I teach prek in a public school district in TX that only accepts children if they are of low socio-economic status or if English is not their first language. We have only 9 English (ESL) classes out of 30 classrooms. The others are Bilingual (Spanish). So, we are definitely serving the children mentioned in the article.

    I would love to see PreK offered to all kids in our district. We see way too many kids turned away because their families barely make enough to not qualify for free or reduced lunch.

    • Nope, I work for a public school, like you. For us the issue is getting the word out to the Latino families. The preK program at my school district used to accept whoever applied by the deadline — so we mostly had middle-class or even upper-middle-class kids. Now preference goes to children with special needs or children from families that qualify for free lunch. The families at my school are slowly but surely learning about the program and enrolling their kids, which is great.

  2. I have seen an increase in Somali students at my preschool. I’m hoping a class will be offered that I can take to better understand their culture. The language barrier is an issue too.

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  4. At my preschool we often have several students whose first language is not English. While one year year I had three students who spoke the same home language (Korean), most of the time it’s a mix. This year, over two classrooms, I had Polish, Korean, Japanese/Italian (a trilingual family), German, Farsi, Mandarin, Spanish, and whatever they speak in Sri Lanka (they tell me, “It’s Sri Lankan!” but I know it has a name).

    I contacted a local university to get help finding ways to make students who can’t understand me feel comfortable. It was very helpful and I highly recommend getting advice if you feel a little lost. We use a lot of pictures of things from their personal story and we try to get a small selection of books they’re familiar with in the classroom. If possible, we get audio recordings of books to play. When we give direction we physically show them what we mean, repeatedly.

    Many of the international parents want us to only use English with their children because they assume that they’ll learn English best by full immersion. That may be true, but not if the kids are miserably unhappy because they have no clue.

    Thanks for bringing up the important issue of non-English speakers needing pre-K. I hope other teachers are inspired to reach out to young ELL students as you have.

  5. It is sad to think that there are people who do not believe in the benefits of education. Or maybe it is because there are people who do not believe in the education system.

    Language is a wonderful tool to master at an early age. I hope that schools all over would add foreign language lessons in their curriculum.

    With language skills at hand, our youth could further study readings about culture, art, and history about their particular country of choice. And it will boost their confidence and personality.

    Kudos to your desire and passion to help educating children. God bless you…

  6. People love music, and we could use it in teaching our beloved ones various things like skills and crafts.

    That is why I really find audio and videos really beneficial and useful in teaching kids learning a new craft.

    They would enjoy hearing someone speak in a foreign language, and they would emulate it, and it is so fun when they have someone who could learn with them. That is why I really find time to be with my little angels, no matter how hectic my schedule is.

    It is wonderful if they would learn the skill at an early age, it would become an integral part of them, and the chance is nil that they would forget it.

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