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Tips For Keeping The Benefits Of Pre-K


July 17, 2019

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Early childhood education is seen as a way to help close school achievement gaps. Researchers say that preschool can give children from low-income families a boost. That benefit doesn’t always stay once children get into kindergarten. As KPCC’s Priska Neely reports, there’s a lot that parents can do to help, especially in the summer.

PRISKA NEELY, BYLINE: Last year, Jessica Andrews’ 4-year-old son Carter attended a Head Start preschool program in Los Angeles. And this fall, he’ll be moving on to elementary school. He’s not too worried about the transition.

JESSICA ANDREWS: What are you excited to learn at school?

CARTER ANDREWS: Play.

ANDREWS: But what do you want to learn about?

CARTER: Dinosaurs.

ANDREWS: What’s your favorite dinosaur?

CARTER: T-Rex.

NEELY: Andrews is a bit more nervous.

ANDREWS: How is it going to be going back to school after a summer off? Do you all allow nap time, bigger classrooms? What happens if there’s an accident?

NEELY: And if that wasn’t enough, Andrews has one more thing to worry about – making sure Carter holds on to the things he learned in pre-K. Researchers say high-quality preschool can help little kids pick up cognitive and social skills. It can also teach them to keep their emotions in check. All that helps them do better in school as they get older and as lessons get harder. But unless grown-ups are vigilant, academic benefits can start to fade when kids move on to higher grades. So the transition to kindergarten is key.