HOUSTON — Monday morning was back-to-school for Alief ISD students!
Some of the district's youngest kiddos will attend two of the district's newest campuses dedicated to pre-K students.
One of those schools is the Martinez Early Learning Center. You won't find desks or worksheets there. Instead, pre-K students will get to learn by experiencing real-life scenarios and hands-on learning.
"Research shows, and this is not recent, this is for years, that 4- and 5-year-olds learn through play," Mari Martinez said.
Martinez is a coordinator with the district that spearheaded the seven-year-long project. One of the schools is even named after her.
"I'm excited," Martinez said. "I'm a little nostalgic too because it's been such a long journey."
Each learning center is made of two separate wings, which are called villages. The villages mirror each other and house three 'neighborhoods.' Inside the neighborhoods are four unique classrooms with different themes.
The students spend three weeks in each classroom before moving on. They'll learn everything from camping to Houston and the Alief community, and even what it's like to be a veterinarian or a meteorologist.
"It is really the children's museum every single day, with purposeful learning and learning through play," Principal Jannae Jernberg said.
Even lunches will be teachable moments with sit-down meals in common areas.
"I want them to have a love of school," Martinez said. "So that they can continue their academic career and be successful."
It will take the full school year for the pre-K students to go through all 12 experiences. Registration is still open at both schools for parents who want to enroll their children.