Guide to Enrolling Your Three- or Four-Year-Old in Pre-K 4 SA

preschool girl raising hand with finger and surprised smile on her face

Pre-K 4 SA is a city-funded initiative to provide full-day prekindergarten to thousands of three- and four-year-old children in San Antonio. In addition, it provides free professional development for teachers in early childhood education and makes grants available to early childhood programs across San Antonio to increase access to high-quality early learning. The vision of Pre-K 4 SA is that the widespread availability of high-quality early childhood education will, within a generation, elevate San Antonio’s workforce to a world-class level. This guide will help educate families in San Antonio about the importance of early childhood education and builds a strong foundation for our city’s youngest learners to better prepare them for lifelong success. Families will also learn how to enroll their children at one of the four Pre-K 4 SA education centers around the city and also the Gardendale Early Learning Program, powered by Pre-K 4 SA. Open enrollment for the 2024–25 school year will begin on February 1, 2023, and continue until all spots are full.

About Pre-K 4 SA

Since its founding in 2012, Pre-K 4 SA has provided full-day prekindergarten for thousands of students at its four education centers. By focusing on three- and four-year-old children, the program lays a foundation that will help these SA children perform better in school for years to come.

Research indicates 90 percent of brain development occurs before the age of five. That’s why Pre-K 4 SA believes that two years of high-quality learning is better than one, and offers a scholarship structure for families who need it most.

Children who attend do what they naturally do—play. However, the program is designed strategically so that the children’s play also helps them build memory and imagination. The materials and activities at the centers introduce language, math, science, and art. Students also build language and social skills.

Pre-K 4 SA has a broader impact on the community through its grants program that increases quality and access in San Antonio preschool programs. Also, educators who teach prekindergarten to third grade are welcomed for free professional development to support best practices.

For more information, we recommend you read some of the many news stories linked at the bottom of this post. Also, we invite you to join the San Antonio Charter Moms discussion group on Facebook and ask questions; the group includes current and former Pre-K 4 SA families who can comment with answers about their own experiences.

Pre-K 4 SA Centers in San Antonio

Pre-K 4 SA has four education centers in San Antonio: East, North, South, and West. Each center has capacity for 500 students. For information about safety, we have included links to search Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) child care records. The only grade level offered at each campus is prekindergarten for four-year-old children.

  • East Education Center: 5230 Eisenhauer Rd., San Antonio, TX 78218 (map); 210-206-2850; DFPS Child Care
  • North Education Center: 3635 Medical Dr., San Antonio, TX 78229 (map); 210-206-2800; DFPS Child Care
  • South Education Center: located through May 2024 at 7031 S. New Braunfels Ave., San Antonio, TX 78223 (map); relocating by August 2024 to the corner of S. W.W. White Rd. and E. Southcross (map); 210-206-2700; DFPS Child Care
  • West Education Center: 1235 Enrique M. Barrera Memorial Pkwy., San Antonio, TX 78227 (map); 210-206-2900; DFPS Child Care

In addition, Pre-K 4 SA works in partnership with Edgewood ISD at Gardendale Early Learning Center. At this replication site, students from three years of age to second grade participate in full day, high quality early childhood education programs. The address is 1731 Dahlgreen, San Antonio, TX 78237 (map), and the phone number is 210-898-4190. The TEA offers report cards for pre-K/kindergarten grades at Gardendale (paired with Memorial High School) and for the Edgewood ISD district as a whole.

Find more information about San Antonio preschools and other local early childhood education centers in our guide, San Antonio Charter Schools Pre-K Options and Resources.

Classroom at Pre-K 4 SA North Education Center on January 24, 2018 prek4sa

Enroll at Pre-K 4 SA

Families can apply online or call 210-206-PREK (7735) to enroll their children. The application timeline for the 2024–25 school year will start on February 1, 2024. Spots are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Starting on the first Monday in February, families whose children are accepted begin receiving notifications by email. More waves of emails will go out each Monday until all the slots at the centers are full.

To enroll their children, families need to meet certain eligibility requirements. You can find more information in the FAQs, but here are some key points:

  • The program is for three- and four-year olds. Eligible children must turn three by September 1 of the year they will be attending the program.
  • To attend for free, families need to meet the eligibility requirements. They must live in the City of San Antonio or its extraterritorial jurisdiction. Also, they must live in one of the participating local school districts, including East Central ISD, Edgewood ISD, Harlandale ISD, North East ISD, Northside ISD, San Antonio ISD, South San Antonio ISD, and Southwest ISD. In addition, they must meet Texas Education Agency (TEA) requirements for free public school prekindergarten.
  • Families who don’t meet the eligibility requirements to attend for free may qualify for tuition assistance through the scholarship program. The convenient cost calculator helps families determine the investment in their child’s early learning. Ten percent of seats are reserved for tuition paying students.

If you are researching San Antonio preschools and looking ahead to the future, you can sign up for the sign up for a tour. You can also look up events where Pre-K 4 SA will be out in the community, such as School Discovery Days. We also recommend following their social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, X (Twitter), YouTube, and LinkedIn) and joining the San Antonio Charter Moms discussion group on Facebook.

Garden at Pre-K 4 SA North Education Center on January 24, 2018 prek4sa

Facts About Pre-K 4 SA

The education centers are full of joy and play, but they are also calm and soothing. Behind the scenes, a lot of research and preparation goes into making the students’ education meaningful and creating a long-term impact on the workforce trajectory of San Antonio.

Early childhood education is important, but sometimes families face obstacles to access San Antonio preschools. Pre-K 4 SA strives to be welcoming by providing free transportation to and from the centers at depots across town. The special buses have seats designed for young children, including five point safety harnesses. Teachers who are CPR and First Aid Certified serve as bus monitors, riding to and from school each day with the children, engaging in songs and learning to make the most of every minute they spend at Pre-K 4 SA.

The school day starts at 7:45 AM and ends at 3:00 PM. Early drop off begins at 7:15 AM, and families can pick up their children as early as 2:45 PM. For working families, there is an extended day program from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM.

The program supports healthy eating. Students eat free daily breakfasts, lunches, and snacks. All of the centers are peanut free. Meals with meat may include chicken or turkey, but not pork or beef; special meals (e.g., gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian) are also available.

All of the centers offer services for parents, such as Parent Cafés that provide space for parents on campus, and Parents as Partners groups to welcome families as leaders and advocates.

Pre-K 4 SA is preparing young children to be part of the transformation of a world-class workforce in San Antonio within a generation. This San Antonio preschool program has a direct benefit for the 2,000 three- and four-year-old children who attend prekindergarten at the centers each year, and has broader impacts on the early childhood education centers that receive grants and the teachers who receive professional development and training. If this sounds like a good opportunity for your family, we recommend that you apply online. Even if your children are not eligible, please help spread the word about how the program is strengthening the next generation of San Antonio citizens.

Classroom at Pre-K 4 SA North Education Center on January 24, 2018 prek4sa

Charter Moms Chats

Watch Dr. Sarah Baray, CEO of Pre-K 4 SA, speak with Inga Cotton on Charter Moms Chats on January 31, 2024 at 3:00 PM Central live on Facebook and YouTube.

Dr. Sarah Baray joined Pre-K 4 SA in 2016, bringing more than 25 years of education experience to the program. Before joining, Dr. Baray was a professor at Texas State University where she directed the Ph.D. in School Improvement program and served as a researcher and instructor in the Educational and Community Leadership program. Prior to Texas State, Dr. Baray worked in the Austin Independent School District, serving in various roles including teacher, principal, and district administrator.

Dr. Baray holds a Ph.D. in Executive Public School Leadership from the University of Texas at Austin, where she also earned Master of Education and Bachelor of Science degrees. Her research interests center on policies and practices related to educational equity. As a scholar-practitioner, Dr. Baray utilizes research to inform practice, particularly as it relates to the role of high-quality early learning in educational outcomes. Dr. Baray has authored dozens of articles and book chapters and provided extensive professional development to help educators become more culturally responsive.

Dr. Baray enjoys living along the river in the heart of San Antonio and is active in the community. She serves on the boards of the Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas and the UP Partnership. Dr. Baray is married to Ray Baray, a native of San Antonio. Their daughter recently graduated from American University in Washington, D.C.

Read More About Early Childhood Education

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