Early Education in the News
Brain scientists tell us that more than 90 percent of a child's capacity to learn is formed by age 4. Positive, nurturing early life experiences are critical to developing our children's full potential.
But for 400,000 children, it's an even more important occasion -- starting school for the first time. Most of them are ready for school, and, years later, most of them and their parents will look back fondly on their first few weeks. Sadly, about a third of the children who are starting school aren’t ready.
To be sure, pre-kindergarten isn't a panacea. Giving all kids a decent shot at success would require offering parents the support that many of them need to raise their children well, as well as strengthening the public schools. When pre-K is done right, though, the evidence confirms that it can alter the arc of children's lives.
Parents receive a school readiness kit with three books, games and a CD of children's music to use over the summer before they start school. Some students and parents also take advantage of the Step Up to Kindergarten program, a four-week summer school for incoming children in their initial year.
Children who attended prekindergarten performed 13 to 16 percentage points higher on mandated English and math exams in 2008. Their performance improved regardless of ethnic group, disability, gender, English-language proficiency or whether they received free or reduced-price lunches, though performance varied among those groups.
Alabama's voluntary pre-kindergarten program is paying big dividends, but not just to the 4-year-olds enrolled. In recent years, business groups have heralded the state's pre-k program as an important way to improve the overall economy, raise earnings and generate wealth.
Proponents say young children pick up foreign languages more quickly than older students because their brains are like "sponges." But such immersion programs must take into account stages of development, said Cindy Rojas Rodriguez, executive director of Raising Austin, a group that funds projects related to the education and care of young children.
Parents and policy makers have long debated whether preschools provide any educational benefit -- and whether it makes sense for states to spend millions of taxpayer dollars to fund them. A study appearing Friday in the journal Science could reignite the debate. In the study, researchers in England found that the benefits of attending a good preschool, including improved mathematic and reading ability and social skills, can last for several years and give children a leg up when they enter elementary school.
Children who went to preschool perform better in math at age 10 than classmates who didn't get the early education, according to a study in the United Kingdom.
"Preschool for all" is the motto of Stock School, one of the best Chicago Public preschools. Located on Chicago's Northwest Side, Stock School has excelled in integrating children with and without disabilities in all of their education programs.
You probably know that the more education you have, the more you are likely to earn. Did you know that some economists say social skills learned in early childhood are important to acquiring that education?
The most important predictor of children's attachment, as well as their cognitive and social development, researchers found, was the sensitivity of their mothers and the characteristics of their families, such as parental income and educational levels. The influence of these factors trumped any effects of day care.
Across the country, one of the education programs that's grown exponentially in dollars and enrollment since the last economic downturn is prekindergarten, especially for at-risk students, which is thought to save states money down the road in terms of remediation and even prison costs. With tighter budgets, pre-K funding could be a target for cuts or could see slower growth.
More than 10 years after New York's political and education leaders promised to work toward providing access to pre-kindergarten classes to every 4-year-old across the state, more than a third of the 677 local school districts have no such programs. Last year, fewer than 91,000 children attended state-financed pre-kindergarten classes — 38 percent of the state's 4-year-olds.
According to [Wichita State audiology professor Ray] Hull, the average adult speaks at a rate of almost 170 words per minute. But the average 5- to 7- year-old processes speech at a rate of only 120 words per minute. The gap between what a child hears and what he or she understands can appear to parents and teachers as inattention, confusion or outright defiance.
K.P. Pelleran, state director of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Michigan, said it is essential to start more preschool programs. The group is calling on Congress and state lawmakers to expand and pay for pre-kindergarten programs such as Head Start.
The state hired Ohio-based Strategic Research Group to evaluate results of the three-year-old program. The report shows that children who participated in the Pre-K program performed better in reading and math in kindergarten and first grade.
Since then, third-shift preschool has become a fast-growing slice of the early childhood pie, especially in predominantly Latino schools and communities that are strapped for space and need new ways to serve children who otherwise are likely to go without services. Even with the expansion, some schools with third-shift classes report that children are still going unserved.
All children ages three and four in the District will soon have access to high quality pre-kindergarten (Pre-K) programs, thanks to the Pre-K Enhancement and Expansion Act of 2008, which was passed by the D.C. City Council in July. City officials are working to ensure that all District children have access to these programs by 2014.
The term "achievement gap" refers to the void in academic success among white students, minorities and low-income students. According to [Dr. Ronald] Ferguson, through an intelligence test for infants at around a child's first birthday, studies have shown no major discrepancies in intellect among racial groups at that age.