health care,
education and
social services

health care,
education  and
social services

Kindergarten Readiness at Briya - How do we prepare children for kindergarten?

At Briya PCS, Mary’s Center’s partner in education, parents and their young children learn at the same time. In the school’s PreK classes, three- and four-year-olds prepare for future school success. While over 50% of PreK students begin the school year at below widely held expectations for their age, by the end of the year 95-100% of them meet or exceed widely held expectations. Thus, the achievement gap is effectively eliminated by the time these students enter kindergarten.

Key reasons for the success of Briya’s PreK students include use of a holistic approach with an emphasis on social-emotional development, a family engagement model that uplifts parents as their children’s first teachers, and a project-based curriculum that encourages curiosity and is relevant to students’ everyday lives.

1. View children’s needs holistically, with a focus on social-emotional skills

As soon as children enter Briya’s PreK classroom, teachers think about each child’s needs holistically and consider their social-emotional, language, physical and cognitive development. Briya’s recognition that feeling comfortable and excited about learning is imperative for children’s present and future academic success helps us direct focus in the fall toward teaching and strengthening social-emotional skills. Skills such as taking turns, sharing and playing successfully with others are foundational to other academic skills such as letter recognition and number awareness. Briya’s PreK teachers are intentional in planning lessons and experiences that foster strong competence in these areas. They also consider how consistent routines and strategies can help children feel comfortable in school and be able to separate from their parents.

2. Empower and equip parents to be engaged in their children’s education

Briya’s family engagement model drives much of what the school does to prepare children for kindergarten. Treating parents as partners in their child’s education, who can set and work towards learning goals for their child, empowers them to become advocates for their child. Briya PreK teacher Shiela Escamilla explains Briya’s message to parents: “You are your child's first teacher—what you have to say matters the most to your child. Daily conversations and experiencing the world help your child develop a strong foundation for early learning. Literacy is introduced in ways as simple as singing your favorite nursery rhyme. As you are your child's first teacher, let your child lead the way as he or she marvels at great experiences with you each day.”  

This philosophy of parent engagement guides how PreK staff works with parents. Parents are required to participate actively in three parent-teacher conferences throughout the year and to communicate regularly with their child’s teacher about their child’s progress. Parents of rising kindergartners are given additional guidance of what developmental and academic milestones to be aware of and how they can support teachers’ efforts and reinforce skills at home. Teachers share intervention activities with parents to bolster language development, social-emotional skills, and other areas. Parents are given materials to encourage children to practice at home using similar approaches to those they encounter in their classroom. 


kindergarten student


3. Use of relevant, project-based learning that encourages critical thinking

Briya’s curriculum is project-based. Children study topics that are relevant to their daily lives and learn academic content in the context of a study topic such as trees or clothes. Teachers listen to what observations or questions children have about a topic and help them build their curiosity and use more language to wonder about the world around them. Through questioning and investigating, children develop invaluable critical thinking skills—skills that will serve them in their next school experience. They are continually asked to explain their thinking and make real-life connections. These experiences are essential to help children be ready for kindergarten. The family engagement model is also visible in the curriculum projects. For example, at the end of each unit of study, families are invited to celebrate and participate in a culminating event marking the conclusion of that topic. This involves parents in the learning process and develops more understanding about the content that children are learning and the kindergarten readiness skills they are gaining.  

Briya’s focus on social-emotional development, family engagement model, and project-based curriculum work in harmony to ensure that four-year-olds are ready to take the next step into kindergarten and are successful in their school journey. 

By Lisa Luceno, Briya Director of Early Childhood Education, and Noelani Mussman, Briya Director of Early Childhood Curriculum and Instruction

About Briya Public Charter School

Briya PCS offers a Two-Generation Program where parents and young children learn at the same time. Adults gain English, parenting, and digital literacy skills while their young children prepare for school success in infant, toddler, and PreK classes across the hall. The school also offers a high school diploma and workforce development programs.

To learn more about how you can join the Briya family, visit or call 202-232-7777.


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