General Education

What Can My Child Expect From Pre-K?

What Can My Child Expect From Pre-K?
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Yonah Korngold August 19, 2014

Learning A through J: how you can prepare your child for pre-k.

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The wood blocks are stacked, the flash cards are shuffled, and the Play-Doh is ready to be shaped by the next Michelangelo (or to be rolled into a ball and eaten).

Your child’s Pre-K classroom is ready for the school year, but you understandably may still have questions about what you and your child can expect from Pre-K.

Pre-K programs are designed to ready your child for kindergarten and set her up for school success in the long-term. Preschoolers and minor-league baseball players share a lot in common. Like the characters in the movie “Bull Durham," they sometimes ride in buses; they spend each day learning to play well with others; and they are moving through a central stage in their development where they work on coordination and cognition before they are called up to “the show."

What’s a typical day like in Pre-K?

In Pre-K, your child will be exposed to a core curriculum that helps her develop the skills and knowledge to prepare her for her next stage of school. Most Pre-K classes will include 18 to 20 students led by a certified early childhood education teacher as well as a paraprofessional to assist with small group work and learning activities.

According to the NYC Department of Education, a typical day in Pre-K will include time spent in each of the following areas:

  • Gross and Fine Motor Skills: Playing outside (when weather cooperates), improving coordination and social skills.

  • Reading Aloud: Developing reading skills and literary confidence through listening, reading, and writing.

  • Center/Choice Time: Learning independence and decision-making skills by working independently on various art and reading projects.

  • Class Meeting: Coming together as a community for activities such as music, stories, and math to strengthen social skills through group learning.

  • Small Group: Spending time with the teacher one-on-one or in a small group to allow for guided practice opportunities.

  • Meal Time: Cultivating healthy eating habits and reaffirming social skills with discussions around the table.

For more information about what your child will be learning in Pre-K, check out this article: What Will My Child Learn in Pre-K

Advice From the Experts

Do you still have questions? Here is some more advice from Harry Hartfield, deputy press secretary for the NYC Department of Education and Jenna Hirsch, a proud NYC Pre-K parent and assistant professor of Mathematics.

# Q: What kind of relationship will parents have with Pre-K teachers?

A: Harry Hartfield, deputy press secretary at the NYC Department of Education:

“We (NYC) have made unprecedented efforts to connect high-quality teachers with Pre-K programs, and we’re choosing the best and brightest from a pool of highly qualified applicants who will be able to build strong relationships with their students and help them excel for the rest of their academic careers."

A: Jenna Hirsch, NYC Pre-K parent:

“I would hope to have an open and honest relationship with the teachers. I would like to be able to send emails, or questions, and receive an answer quickly regarding my child and any problems he/she may have. I also like to have a relationship with a teacher that can give me advice for behavioral issues I may be having or any other problems. Last year my kid started having these strange fears … we got to talk to a psychologist affiliated with the school who gave us some advice on how to handle this — that really rocked."

# Q: How can parents prepare their child for Pre-K?


“The start of Pre-K is an exciting time for students and families, and the Department is dedicated to working with families to make sure students are able to enroll and succeed in Pre-K. Families who have already enrolled should reach out to their child’s program and inquire how to best prepare. That is why we have enrollment specialists across the City working to make sure families are aware of their options. For families who have not enrolled they can visit our website or text “preK" to 877877 for more information."


“Prepare your child by talking to[her] and let [her] know what is going on. Our school has something called home visits, so it’s great because the teachers actually come to your house before school starts and get to meet the kids in an intimate setting. Also, practice making lunches for them. It’s good to teach the kids how to prepare their lunch the day before, and they get to help choose their menu. Let them choose to wear what they want but something comfortable and that they are used to. Get books about school, and play school at home. This gets them used to the idea of having someone else in charge of them."

The Tales of Pre-K Past

By the age of three, Mozart was already playing the harpsichord, and by the age of six he had scored his first musical composition. Between the ages of three and six, Mozart developed the coordination and cognition that he needed in order to succeed at the next level. Little Mozart would have fit right in with a Pre-K curriculum.


A Parent’s Guide to Universal Prekindergarten. (n.d). Retrieved from NYC Dept. of Education, Office of Early Childhood Education

Colker, LJ. (2009) Pre-K (What Exactly Is It?). Teaching Young Children, 2(1), 22-24. Schwartzberg, A. (n.d) Pre-K Reading Increases Your Child's Confidence. Retrieved from Scholastic

Pre-K: Getting Ready to Read and Write. Retrieved from Reading Rockets


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