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Principal Rachel Dzurilla had four children in two years--two sets of twins--and when it was time to send them to school, she went with them. Now she gives advice to young parents who aren't sure when and where to put their child in an academic setting.

Pre-School Options in Dallas Large in Number, Small in Openings; Option for K-8th grade Schools Promote Student Confidence

Children ages 3, 4 and 5 are often hard to place due to lack of space in traditional daycare, but Pre-k - 8th grade schools are a viable option

The first five years of a child's life are critically important, the foundation that shapes children's future health, happiness, growth, development and learning achievement at school, in the family and community, and in life. But those Middle School Years are key too, according to new research.

Research confirms that the first five years are particularly important for the development of the child's brain, and the first three years are the most critical in shaping the child's brain architecture. Early experiences provide the base for the brain's organizational development and functioning throughout life. They have a direct impact on how children develop learning skills as well as social and emotional abilities.

“Children learn more quickly during their early years than at any other time in life,” says Principal Rachel Dzurilla, the mother of two sets of twins, and a former Dallas Police Officer. She was a stay-at-home mother until her children were old enough for Kindergarten, then took a teaching position at the school. “They need love and nurturing to develop a sense of trust and security that turns into confidence as they grow.”

That is why placing a child in a loving, academic setting is so crucial. And why keeping a child in the same loving atmosphere through their middle school years, 6th - 8th grades, promotes confidence and better grades for most students as they enter their high school years.

Beginning the Search

Finding a Daycare or school that is best for your child can be tricky. Referrals from family and friends are typically the best way to start, and then googling the options suggested to get reviews and verification on-line about the school. Talking with parents of children currently attending a daycare or school you are considering is key.

Often daycare teachers are less educated than those working in a school that teaches older children, too. To give your child an academic edge, placing him or her in a school setting rather than a daycare facility may be the best option. In Oak Cliff, there are several church-related schools that have classes from Pre-K3 to 8th grade, versus a daycare that takes care of infants just six weeks old up to four years old. And new research suggests a pre-K through 8th grade school gives students more confidence as they enter high school, versus moving a student into a middle school setting for 6th through 8th grades. Instead of becoming the "low man on the totem pole" as a 6th grader in a new middle school setting--producing stress and nervousness in a student--a child who remains in a familiar school setting does better as he or she continues to learn in a place where they're familiar, with few worries about new teachers, rules and expectations.

Kindergarten Key to Future Academic Success

Young children grow, learn and develop rapidly when they receive love and affection, attention, encouragement and mental stimulation, as well as nutritious meals and good health care. A daycare setting may provide some of this, but without an educational component by professional teachers, a child misses out on the critical knowledge necessary to promote them through their academic years—and life.

If children have a bad experience in Kindergarten, it can shape their future with a negative outlook on learning, curb their curiosity and doom them to a life of struggle.

To keep students smiling a teacher must encourage questions, curiosity and creativity. A vibrant humanities program which opens hearts and promotes enthusiasm, self-esteem, skill acquisition, and opportunity to highlight their talents in music, art, Spanish, computer science, and physical education is ideal.

Finding the Right School for Your Child

Parents of young children can start their search for the right school by asking their neighbors, friends and relatives where they send their children. Summer camps are enrolling now for the months of June and July and often that is a good way to start looking for a school program for the fall. Private schools often open up their classrooms and playgrounds to summer campers. Looking on line under the Catholic Diocese of Dallas website or googling “Dallas Summer Camps” can give parents a wealth of choices.

Even pregnant mothers who plan to return to the work force can begin their research on their child’s future school. Some of the most popular daycares and schools have a waiting list, and getting on it can be the key to getting your child in when Mom is ready to go back to work.

The mother of four children, two sets of twins in two years, Rachel Dzurilla knows the struggle. Her children are all in college now, but she remembers well the craziness of raising four small toddlers, and found a way to be with them when they went to school—she joined the staff at St. Elizabeth’s of Hungary part time, then full time as a teacher, and eventually as Vice Principal for seven years, and now principal. “Not every mom can go to school with her children,” she says with a laugh, “but it was the right solution for me.”

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6


Need advice where to send your child to summer camp or in the fall? Principal Rachel Dzurilla can help.

St. Elizabeth’s of Hungary is a resource for families with questions and has openings for children of all ages, beginning at pre-k3. The public is invited to come tour the school and meet the exceptional faculty and staff. For more information contact Sandy Walkley
(214) 331-5139 x21 or talk with Principal Rachel Dzurilla about the options in Oak Cliff.

For more information see the school’s website: 

The school located at 4019 South Hampton Road, Dallas, TX 75224 next door to the Walgreens on the corner of Loop 12 Ledbetter and Hampton.

Writer Judy Porter also raised four children--including twins boys--and eventually taught at the high School her children attended. She can be reached at




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