Early Education in the News
According to the National Institute for Early Education Research, pre-school not only helps provide the math and early reading skills children will need in the first grade, but it also helps them learn how to respect and cooperate with other kids. And experts say the pre-school years are crucial because 90 percent of a child's brain development happens by age three, and their fundamental personality is set by age five.
Preschool programs and day care centers have been studied extensively by researchers, and the reports are usually a mixed bag of risks and benefits. But researchers agree it is critical that child care programs be of high quality and staffed by well-trained teachers who are responsive to children's developmental needs.
The study of 2,558 children said the positive effects of both quality primary schools and preschools "were sufficiently large enough to be important for any government wishing to maximize education achievement." That ought to make the rapid expansion of pre-K a high enough priority for Massachusetts to make universal access a reality.
To see how well Iowa's campaign to enroll more children in preschool is going, look at Des Moines: In the second year of the voluntary program, thanks to the new state dollars, 1,235 4-year-olds are attending preschool in district schools, church schools and other private schools, as well as child-care centers. The state dollars mean more children are learning through play that helps them get a stronger start academically, such as developing a grasp of literacy and math skills by pretending to take orders and adding up the bills in a make-believe restaurant.
Two local elementary schools are among 10 in the state that will participate in a two-year pilot program to form a stronger link between preschools and the public schools they feed into. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton are each contributing $100,000 for the two-year program, with 10 schools in the first year and an additional 10 added in the second year.
Last school year marked the end of a rollout of pre-kindergarten programs throughout the county, as a result of 2002 state law that required pre-kindergarten to be offered to all low-income students in the state. Since then, the Maryland Model for School Readiness, an annual evaluation of how prepared kindergarten students are for school, has shown that the number of Prince George's kindergarten students who are ready for school has nearly doubled.
At a conference last month, state special education directors and federal officials focused on learning more about early-intervening services. The potential to help children early in their school careers is great, supporters say.
Charles Bruner, director of the Child and Family Policy Center in Ames, Iowa, testified this morning in the ongoing school-aid trial. Bruner said some children from low-income families start kindergarten a year or more behind their peers.
Programs with small classes and well-trained teachers have the best results, leading to their students continued school success down the road, according to a policy brief released today. As federal and state officials continue to debate whether to expand publicly funded preschool programs, they need to look at which ones really work, said author Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University.
The state's two-year effort to create universal access to preschool has so far provided more than 100 programs with new classroom materials, computers, or teacher bonuses but has done little to expand access, according to a report being released today.
Children from every ZIP code in San Francisco are now eligible for a city program that provides free preschool to 4-year-olds, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday. Education officials say the Preschool for All program, which offers free part-day preschool to 4-year-olds, will have 4,800 slots for the city's 6,000 4-year-olds within the next few years.
The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics introduced standards for pre-K math in 2000. The standards emphasized these concepts as important for children to begin to understand: numbers; shapes and sizes; and measurement.
By investing in high-quality early childhood education, the states with solid programs are positioning their children to realize short- and long-term gains. Mississippi is moving in the right direction through the systematic implementation of its early childhood program targeted towards low-income children - the Mississippi Child Care Quality Step System.
Even if the court sides with rural schools and orders a greater investment in education, there's no guarantee that student achievement will soar. That's because the answer isn't simply more money, it's more money well spent. It's money spent on preschool for at-risk 3-year-olds, something the state hasn't even considered in any real way.
Almost half of the United States has proposed increases in funding for their pre-kindergarten programs, according to one study recently released. Conducted by Pre-K Now, a collaboration of state advocates and policymakers, the study found $261 million in increases would go towards providing resources for pre-kindergarten programs in 21 states, bringing the total state funding for pre-k to $52.5 billion - a 5 percent increase from 2007.
Five Shelbyville High School students are spending part of their semesters working with young children in the preschool class, which was moved to the high school this year so that an elementary school could have more room for full-day kindergarten. Preschool teacher Susan Smith said she assigns the high school students small tasks, such as helping children with flash cards or activity books.
More than a decade has passed since New York promised a pre-school education for every 4-year-old whose parents wanted it. But as this school year begins, it is a long way from that goal.
The advantages of solid universal preschool education in society are unquestionable, but its implementation still faces major hurdles. A poll of public preschools revealed that over 75% have a waiting list and have been forced to turn away low-income children.
"It's a very emotional decision, and very common for (parents) to be at odds," said Shauna Adams, University of Dayton's Early Childhood Program chairwoman. "(Good programs) are play-based, are age appropriate and are not about making four the new six."
High-quality preschool programs can help children from low-income communities be more successful in elementary school, initial results from a study show. Researchers found that students in the Dallas school district who had received services from certain early childhood education programs outperformed their classmates from similar backgrounds, officials said.