Looking Back and Looking Ahead in Texas Prekindergarten Curriculum
Dr. Anita Uphaus
My early childhood career in Texas began in the summer of 1973. I was hired to be one of the first state-funded, full-time, public school kindergarten teachers. What a delight it was to be able to create and write curriculum with other dedicated teachers who were focused on establishing developmentally appropriate, high-quality, student-based learning experiences. Later, in the early 1980s, I was instrumental in repeating a similar process by originating a new prekindergarten program designed specifically for four-year-old students.
I have made many observations about prekindergarten education and best practices in these 40+ years. The environment around the prekindergarten classroom has changed, but the developmental path of a four-year-old child has not changed. The development that occurs in the four years before entering prekindergarten is comparable to the development that occurs during four years of college education. Today, prekindergarten offers the opportunity to attend school when each child’s desire to learn is at its prime.
Starting “real” school as a four-year-old student has continually become more complex and competitive. This has increased the importance of the curriculum to be focused on child-centered activities that will encourage all students to thrive individually as they grow into creative, confident, caring learners.
I am hopeful for the future of Texas PreK, as I recently had the opportunity to review the new The Creative Curriculum® for Texas. This curriculum is a top-quality, expanded curriculum system, based on those same proven best practices, that houses an abundance of additional resources to meet the academic needs of prekindergarten-aged children. It is a new, all-inclusive system created specifically to meet the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines and is truly a teacher treasure chest. Family resources for supporting instruction are also included and will help to build powerful family partnerships. The whole-child curriculum is provided in both English and Spanish to enhance teaching and learning, making it ideal for dual-language instruction.
The Creative Curriculum® reminds me of the past when kindergarten and prekindergarten curriculum were written by early childhood educators and housed in a treasured binder. The development of the teaching material was based on best practices of how young children learn and was strategically designed to build on the students’ prior learning, using common materials easily accessible in a child’s world. The same is true of The Creative Curriculum® for Texas today.
I believe that when a four-year-old child has experienced learning cultivated by the teacher’s nurturing and guidance from The Creative Curriculum® for Texas, the student will enter kindergarten excited and ready for another exciting school year. Caring teachers implementing The Creative Curriculum® for Texas plant the love and joy of learning in happy, successful students.
Director of Early Childhood (Retired)
Austin Independent School District