What will high-quality pre-K look like in Metro Schools?

Little girl doing an experimentWe have spoken so much this year about the need to expand prekindergarten, but that's really only part of what we're working on. Metro Schools is dedicated to providing high-quality prekindergarten to all Nashville families who want it. “Expanding prekindergarten isn’t enough. We also have to invest in quality,” said Director of Schools Dr. Jesse Register. “Early childhood has its own challenges and needs, and we intend to put the right resources into developing a high-quality program to give children a strong foundation. By partnering with Vanderbilt University, one of the best education schools in the country, and other experts in the community, we can build a premier program right here in Metro Schools.”

We will build on the early childhood programs already in place to create a world-class prekindergarten program. Working together with Vanderbilt University researchers, the early learning team will develop a curriculum rooted in play, experimentation and discovery. It will be a well-rounded experience focused on developing strong skills in:

  • Literacy – A child’s love of storytelling, both oral and in print, is the gateway to language development and early literacy skills. Classrooms will provide print-rich environments and a multicultural selection of children’s literature, as well as time devoted to storytelling, music, play and conversation. Teachers will develop children’s vocabulary and language through multiple modes, always responding to the interests and needs of children.
  • Math – Teachers will bridge children’s innate, informal interest in mathematics to formal math skills and concepts, including numbers and operations, geometry and spatial sense, measurement, patterns and data analysis. Teachers will integrate this learning into the daily activities in the classroom.  Examples include counting and comparing blocks, music and movement games that teach spatial relations, measuring raw materials in cooking, and observing and recording growth in planted seeds. Research shows these kinds of skills advance math and literacy achievement in later years.
  • Arts – Music, movement, visual arts and joy will be present in every classroom. Children learn best through experimenting with all five senses, and expressing themselves in multiple ways. Teachers will encourage children’s natural sense of wonder and curiosity through a variety of hands-on activities that promote learning and discovery. Research demonstrates experiential learning in early childhood programs promotes advanced cognitive development and higher-order thinking in later years. Each school will have a dedicated art teacher and programs that include music, drama, dance and multicultural awareness.
  • Social and Emotional Development – Teachers will focus on the healthy development of young children by integrating social and emotional development into all aspects of classroom life. Children will be nurtured as they develop self-awareness and trusting relationships with others. All students will have important roles and responsibilities in their classroom to build their self-confidence and to teach them how to respect their physical environment. These skills translate into responsible decision-making and advanced self-control in later elementary and teenage years.

Given the diversity of students expected to be served, the programs will have multicultural aspects that weave in the language, culture and backgrounds of Nashville families.

The new Early Learning Centers will serve as innovative hubs to learn what works best in early education. Through a partnership with the Peabody Research Institute, the early learning team will study and implement best practices and create recommendations for scaling them to all Metro pre-K classrooms. The team will also work with community leaders as part of a larger public-private coalition to champion pre-K expansion.

Early Learning Centers will offer a full day (8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.) of programming to students, including before and after care options. Teachers and leaders will bring a deep knowledge of early childhood and an innovative mindset to teaching and learning. They will place a priority on parent and family engagement, which includes wrap-around services and resources to promote learning at home.

Elementary schools and Early Learning Centers are still accepting applications for pre-K. Families can learn more about how to apply on the Metro Schools website or by calling the Customer Service Center at 259-INFO (4636).