Erin has been hard at work at P.S. 153.

Push for Pre-K

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Push for Pre-K

Story and photos by Erik Cuello

“Children are prepared to come in and learn,” said Deputy Mayor Richard Buery.

“Children are prepared to come in and learn,” said Deputy Mayor Richard Buery.

The proof is in the Pre-K.

Pre-K for All, a key initiative of the de Blasio administration, was touted by Deputy Mayor Richard Buery during a recent tour of P.S. 153 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. with school administrators and Councilmember Mark Levine, who represents the district.

The early application process for families seeking to enroll their children in the upcoming 2016-7 school year, will end this Wed., Mar. 9th.

Pre-K For All, which is free, runs five days per week from September to June.

While most pre-K options are on a full-day schedule (6 hours and 20 minutes), there are some 5-hour and half-day (2 hours and 30 minutes) options also available.

On the visit this past Mon., Feb. 29th Buery pointed to research that immersion in the early education experience offers students a host of benefits, including the development of stronger math and reading skills and positive behavioral norms.

“Being in Pre-K is helpful towards socialization,” said Buery, who lauded the work of Pre-K educators and the specific early childhood training they receive. “[As a result of Pre-K,] children are prepared to come in and learn at an earlier age.”

P.S. 153, an elementary school of approximately 800 students from Pre-K through fifth grades, currently has 54 full-day Pre-K seats.

Erin has been hard at work at P.S. 153.

Erin has been hard at work at P.S. 153.

In December 2015, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that a record 68,547 children had city-wide enrolled in the program – nearly 50,000 more students than were enrolled before the Democrat took office.

“Pre-K for All is now part of the lives of tens of thousands of children,” said de Blasio then. “It will only get bigger and better from here. We’re proud Pre-K for All is performing on a level with some of the most highly regarded programs in the nation.”

In one classroom tour on Monday, toddlers in uniforms sat at low communal tables. They regaled visitors with details on recent lessons on transportation, and presented accessories built from interlocking widgets.

Erin P. proudly shared a bound “book” whose pages she had filled with brightly colored animals and repeated instances of her own neatly printed name – in upper and lower case letters.

“They’re learning through play,” said Councilmember Mark Levine.

“They’re learning through play,” said Councilmember Mark Levine.

In another, students serenaded guests with “Five Little Monkeys” and “La Cucaracha” in English and Spanish.

The interaction, both with administrators and with each other, made a difference, said Levine.

“Rather than through lecture, they’re learning through play and activities,” he remarked. “The social aspect is huge.”

Assistant Principal S. Flores agreed that the instruction offered by the DOE was more specialized than what could typically be provided by caretakers at home.

“Students are still learning spelling and colors, but in a different setting with different resources,” said Flores. “They are being exposed to technology, literacy and math. Most importantly, they are learning structure and routine in class, as opposed to home learning.”

“All our classrooms are equipped with everything we need,” added Instructional Coach Angela Torres.

And administrators said the benefits yield dividends for years to come.

“This generation is adapting to the classroom just by sitting and being able to be centered,” said one counselor.  “We do a lot of work with children and with that transition [to kindergarten].”

“Our teachers [in later grades] absolutely see the difference,” said Flores. “Students know the alphabet, they can write their names, and it allows them to move faster through their curriculum.”

The school is located in West Harlem.

The school is located in West Harlem.

The Deputy Mayor said that 88% of parents had had children admitted into one of their top three choices this past year.

“Parents want to find a location that will educate their student and offer conveniences such as location,” said Buery.

Levine was impressed as he observed a small team building a home with Lego blocks.

“It is so essential that kids meet other students,” he stated. “And [that they] are able to socialize and participate in hands-on activities.”

“More than blocks were being built,” said Torres.

“We do reading tests at the beginning of the year,” she reported. “The kids that are coming from Pre-K are scoring much higher.”

The program is a signature initiative of the de Blasio administration.

The program is a signature initiative of the de Blasio administration.

Special Education Coach Courtney Donovan said the impact was felt beyond the books.
“Students in Kindergarten that graduated from Pre-K have a higher level of confidence, which is so important once [more advanced] academics come into play,” she observed.

Buery, who diligently created large bead necklaces and shared abundant high fives, urged families to apply as soon as possible.

The chief reason for enrollment, he said, was obvious.

“They’re having fun,” he said, nodding at the children huddled around him.

Preliminary Pre-K applications close on Wed., Mar. 9th. For more information on registration in Pre-K for All, please call 311 or visit http://on.nyc.gov/JBUSOI

All applications received by the March 4 deadline are treated the same. The application process is not first-come, first-served. You can update your application until the March 4 deadline if you have already submitted. All families must submit an application to receive a pre-K offer.

All applications received by the March 4 deadline are treated the same. The application process is not first-come, first-served. You can update your application until the March 4 deadline if you have already submitted. All families must submit an application to receive a pre-K offer.

How to Apply

  • Apply Online: Create an account on our application site and submit your application. Online applications are accepted until Wednesday, March 9, 2016 at 11:59 p.m. If you do not have an email address and/or do not wish to provide an email address, please apply over the phone or in person.
  • Apply Over the Phone: Call 718.935.2067 between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Phone applications are accepted until Wednesday, March 9, 2016 at 6:00 p.m.
  • Apply In Person: Visit a counselor at a Family Welcome Center (find one at on.nyc.gov/1r0lxJq) from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Applications are accepted until Wednesday, March 9, 2016 at 3:00 p.m.

Interpretation services are available in more than 200 languages for over-the-phone and in-person application submissions. Please request an interpreter if you speak a language other than English.

After you apply, you will receive your pre-K offer letter in early May 2016.