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Early Childhood Education




Our vision of excellence

In Tulsa Public Schools, our goal is to ensure that all students have equitable access to excellent early childhood education across the district. Our early childhood programs prepare students for success in elementary school and to realize their potential to become healthy, thriving members of the community. Children engage in intellectually stimulating, culturally responsive experiences and joyful, purposeful play to promote their academic, social-emotional and physical development. Learning is fostered in partnership with families and caregivers to nurture children’s growth and well-being.

Early Childhood program highlights

Students have equitable access to high quality, responsive early learning experiences.

Effective early learning classrooms value diversity and foster inclusion and acceptance. Teachers are committed to understanding their students as individuals and supporting the needs of all learners. Through culturally and linguistically relevant classroom materials and activities, students begin to develop positive associations with their own identities and to value and learn from each other’s identities.

Students are engaged in joyful, purposeful play.

Effective early learning classrooms leverage students’ natural curiosity and creativity. Teachers create a joyful, purposeful play environment that engages students through exploration, inquiry and conversation to build language, literacy and math skills, as well as problem-solving and social skills.

Students engage in rigorous, intellectually-stimulating work.

 Effective early learning classrooms create opportunities for all young children to engage with complex academic work and higher-order thinking in all content areas, including literacy and numeracy, in a manner that is developmentally appropriate.

Students experience an environment that supports their development of social-emotional skills.

In effective early learning classrooms, teachers equally prioritize student growth in key social emotional skills that are critical for success in school and in life, such as understanding and managing emotions, feeling and showing empathy for others, establishing and maintaining positive relationships, and making responsible decisions.

Students build oral language skills in linguistically responsive environments.

Effective early learning environments provide intentional opportunities to foster children’s language skills in English and/or their home language, depending on the goals of the program and needs of the children. Children’s voices are valued, respected, and encouraged. In early childhood, students begin to develop the oral language and vocabulary skills that serve as the foundation for their ability to read to learn in third grade and beyond. 

Families and caregivers are partners in supporting children’s growth and development.

In effective early learning environments, families and caregivers are welcomed, valued, and respected. Families and caregivers work together with school staff to establish an atmosphere that intentionally builds meaningful connections, trusting relationships, and mutual respect.

What to Expect in Pre-K

Social Emotional Learning

In pre-kindergarten, children are learning how to express their feelings, manage their emotions, make new friends, share and take turns. It is also a time when children are developing positive self-esteem and growing more confident and independent.

By the end of pre-K, your child will:

  • begin to recognize and name feelings such as happiness, sadness and anger;
  • express feelings in a way that is appropriate with support from an adult;
  • stick to a task or activity for short periods of time;
  • begin to notice others’ feelings and show understanding for them;
  • follow classrooms rules with some prompting;
  • play cooperatively with peers and share materials; and
  • trust their teacher and ask for help when needed.

Language Development

Long before children learn how to read words on a page, they develop skills needed to understand how language works. What children learn from listening and talking contributes to their ability to read and write, and early vocabulary development is an important predictor of success in reading.

By the end of pre-K, your child will:

  • begin to talk about the things they are interested in and tell stories;
  • begin to ask and answer questions about books that are read to them; •understand and follow simple spoken directions;
  • start conversations with other children and adults about things around them; •use words to express their needs and interests;
  • learn and use new words; and
  • repeat simple poems, rhymes, and songs.


Learning to read and write starts long before first grade and has long-lasting effects. When children learn basic reading skills in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten such as recognizing letters and rhyming words, it is easier for them to learn more challenging reading skills in later grades. The experiences children have with books and print materials greatly influence their ability to understand what they read. Children need to be exposed to a variety of story books and non-fiction texts with rich vocabulary that represent and include diversity of families, cultures and languages.

By the end of pre-K, your child will:

  • identify his/her first name;
  • understand the correct way to hold a book;
  • understand that print carries meaning;
  • recognize familiar signs and print in his or her surroundings and community; •identify most letters and be able to connect some letters to sounds;
  • begin to understand rhyme; and
  • show interest in reading and writing.


Research shows that a child’s early math skills are an important predictor of future academic success. The math skills children learn in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, including developing an understanding of numbers, recognizing patterns and shapes, and understanding basic measurement provide the foundation for learning more advanced math skills in later grades.

By the end of pre-K, your child will:

  • know number names and be able to count to 20;
  • count the number of objects in a group up to 10;
  • recognize and copy patterns such as red, yellow; red, yellow; red, yellow;
  • name common shapes such as circles, squares, triangles;
  • compare two objects; and
  • describe, sort and compare real-world objects.

Physical Health & Motor Development

Physical health and muscle development are important parts of a child’s overall well-being. In pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, children are focused on building both gross motor (large muscle) skills, like jumping and skipping, and fine motor (small muscle) skills, such as writing and cutting, as well as learning about health and personal care. Children may play simple sports to build their gross motor skills, and participate in coloring, crafts and other activities to develop their fine motor skills. As children develop both large and small muscle skills, they begin to gain strength and confidence in their bodies and abilities, and develop greater independence.

By the end of pre-K, your child will:

  • begin to participate in personal care, such as brushing teeth, washing hands or getting dressed;
  • use hand-eye coordination carry out tasks, such as working on puzzles or stringing beads together;
  • begin to use an appropriate grip to use tools to write, draw and paint; •hop and stand on one foot up to two seconds;
  • catch a bounced ball most of the time; and
  • pour and cut with supervision.

Contact Us

Early Childhood Education
Email Us

Kelly Kane
Executive Director

Jordan Sheffield-Mix
Program Manager

Jenny Taylor
Program Manager



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