WACO, TX — Waco ISD works with parents before their child is born up until they're enrolled in preschool to instill early developmental skills that will set the child up for academic success.
"We work from those gross motor to walking to fine motor and writing, and our goal is to send them ready to pre-K," said Anita Henderson, Lead Parent Educator.
The program has been in place since 1990. Each year, educators are work with more than 100 families.
The Parents as Teachers program is completely free and does not require parents to buy materials for their child.
"We also help supply the materials and books because we want them to read to them every night because reading is one of the main factors behind speech and school success," Henderson said.
A parent is a child's first teacher. This program helps the parent work with their child every day because teachers only see them for a few hours while the program is one hour a week.
Rafaela Jaimes is in the program with her 4-year-old son, Aron. She says even she has learned a few things, particularly that her role is imperative to her child's growth. They're favorite pastime right now is reading.
"The most impacting part has been learning how important it is to read to my child. We read every day, and in reading there's words we don't use on a daily basis," Jaimes said.
She encourages all parents to work with their child, but says without this program, she isn't sure her son would be doing the things he is at four years old.
"I've truly enjoyed all of it, and I'm very grateful for all that Aron has learned, from his letters to his shapes to learning now to write his name," Jaimes said.
Henderson says the program has proved successful. Pre-K students who have gone through the program score higher in reading and writing than other children.
Enrollment is free, and they're always accepting new families.
Waco ISD is also hosting a Pre-K Round Up event on April 24 at the Waco ISD Athletic Complex from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
This event will allow families to enroll their 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds for preschool. The child must be three or four by September 1, 2020. Families will receive all the necessary documents, and registration will take between 18 and 25 minutes.
Afterwards, there will be free food and activities for the family to get to know their WISD family.