Vista kindergarten

Ask any Vista kindergarten teacher about the benefits of a preschool education and they will sing its praises. And it's no wonder, considering the research that backs up the positive returns. According to research, children who attend some form of preschool before they enter kindergarten increase their reading readiness, cognitive skills, language acquisition, social-emotional aptitude, and much more.

The early childhood education programs at Vista Unified elementary schools fall under the umbrella of services in the district's P-3 program. The "P" stands for prenatal and the three is for 3rd grade. After 3rd grade, students go from learning to read to reading to learn, so it is vital to reach students earlier than ever.

That means reaching out to young and even pregnant mothers in the community and offering information and assistance in accessing early childhood education. It also means providing that essential preschool education for those in need in the community.

VUSD's goal is to close educational achievement gaps before they open and give every student in the district the best chance for success, both in school and in life. That goal led to a community partnership with Educational Enrichment Systems.

Educational Enrichment Systems, also known as EES, is a partner with the Vista Unified School District. They provide on-site part-day early childhood education programs at eleven Vista Elementary schools throughout the district (22 total throughout San Diego County).

The district's community partnership with EES began with the implementation of part-day preschool programs at three elementary schools, and has grown to the current number of eleven. Beaumont, Monte Vista, Bobier, Vista Academy, Casita Center, Foothill Oak, Grapevine, Hannalei, Mission Meadows, Temple Heights, and Maryland Elementary all have preschool classrooms on site.

Families find out about the preschool program in myriad ways. There is a strong word of mouth component, as well as proper signage at the school sites, and partnerships with local community organizations to get the word out to the community. Families qualify for the part-day preschool program based on parent salary and financial need.

Family Liaisons at each elementary school are also resources for parents to learn about enrollment in preschool programs. Families can enroll their child at any time during the school year, but are encouraged to enroll during the summer so that they get the most educational benefit from attending.

Sara Hernandez is a program director at EES, and has been with the organization for almost 25 years. She sees firsthand the benefits of the partnership with Vista Unified School District.

"Walk into any kindergarten class on one of our sites and you will see the difference in children who have been through our program or have had any form of preschool prior to kinder," says Hernandez. "It's amazing."

"Having preschools on the campuses of elementary schools is a win-win for the families, for the students, and for the Kindergarten teachers," shares Hernandez.

When it comes to individual education goals for each student, says Hernandez, having a preschool on campus is a huge benefit. "Teachers are very in tune with the children's needs."

Once enrolled and attending, the academic and social-emotional progress of each student is assessed and monitored by teachers and trained staff. Interventions, if necessary, can take place, and positive outcomes achieved with earlier attention to each child's learning abilities.

"With our program," says Hernandez, "because we are in the district, it's much easier to connect parents with specialists who are able to provide services."

One of the many interventions is with children who are English language learners. Attendance in the program means they will acquire one to two years of English and begin kindergarten ready to learn.

All children who attend the program are able to participate in the daily school routine and become familiar with the expectations of going to school and being in a classroom. The Preschools are a part of the school's community.

Vista Unified School District's partnership with EES is providing a nurturing atmosphere and solid foundation for Vista's children. If you think EES might be right for your child, you can visit or contact the elementary school in your neighborhood.