PHARR - Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD in partnership with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and Early Head Start-Child Care celebrated the opening of an indoor play-based learning center for the PSJA Early Head Start Program on Friday, Aug. 30 at the Buckner campus in Pharr.
What once stood as an old gymnasium is now a unique, state-of-the-art play-based learning center, sectioned into 15 interactive areas so children can learn early literacy, develop their social and motor skills.
“Those that are here for the first three years of their life have left with the ability to speak two languages,” said Dr. Hilda Medrano, a professor of Childhood Education at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. “It’s all about developing their brain, developing their language, and developing their self-regulation. Those self-regulation skills are even more important than IQs.”
The indoor playground will serve low-income infants up to 3 years of age. Each interactive area focuses on activities that are not only play-based, but brain-based, both of which PSJA Early Childhood Director Maricela Cortez emphasized are crucial for early development.
“I just can't wait to see the children in here,” she said. “The sky is the limit for us. We're looking forward to many more years of our children playing in this indoor playground. The area is also air conditioned, so we have just the best of the best for our PSJA students.”
During the ribbon cutting, officials also spoke of the long-term opportunities the center would provide, including comprehensive development so children can jumpstart their educational futures.
“From here they transition straight into our pre-kinder program for three-year-olds,” said PSJA Superintendent of Schools Dr. Daniel King. “With that big head start, these students are on the path to having an outstanding educational career here at PSJA.”
PSJA Early Head Start students will start utilizing the newly renovated learning center by the end of the month.