Closing the Preschool Gap: Help Your Child Reap the Benefits of Early Childhood Education
Every parent dreams of their child graduating from high school with a road wide open of possibilities. They’re equipped with the tools to succeed and follow their dreams. Chances are you’re already buying toddler sized college t-shirts or putting money into a college fund. You may even be moving to a better school district because you know a great education is the key to giving them a great future. But did you know that education starts in preschool? Educators and researchers agree, the significant benefits of early childhood education are fact.
What is the Preschool Achievement Gap?
Growing research is showing the importance of education during those preschool years. Early childhood education is important because it sets kids up for success throughout their school career by shortening the preschool gap. This term describes kids who are ready for school and those who are not. There is a set of skills that all students need to grasp by the end of kindergarten. Many students who weren’t ready for school don’t master those skills during that first year. Some can master them, and others surpass those skills and move on to more difficult concepts. This creates the “preschool achievement gap”. This is a difference in skill level that can continue for the rest of their academic career and beyond. Teachers will then “level” kids in the classroom to provide appropriate instruction for each child’s ability up until graduation.
How Do You Help Your Child Close the Preschool Gap?
You might be thinking about the educational tablet apps that your child happily engages in while you’re getting ready for work. And those ABC refrigerator magnets they play with while you’re cooking dinner are helping, right? The answer is yes, of course! But research shows that attending preschool has a considerable impact on academic success. Early childhood education is important because it enables them to be successful in school.
What are the Benefits?
Preschool vs. no preschool statistics show that children who attend quality preschool programs out-perform students who haven’t attended preschool. This is based on national standards for math and reading and other cognitive skills. These early advantages snowball as a child gets older, with long-term positive outcomes. The benefits of early childhood education cannot be ignored. Study after study show that children enrolled in high quality preschool programs do better in school.
- Higher scores on achievement tests in math and reading during elementary AND secondary school years
- Lower levels of grade retention
- Fewer placements in special education classes
- Higher IQ’s
The advantages continue. The long-term benefits of early childhood education follow children well into adulthood. Studies even reveal health benefits. Preschool vs. no preschool statistics show that those who attend preschool:
- Commit fewer crimes and are less likely to be teen parents
- More likely to graduate from high school and attend a 4-year college or university
- More likely to have a skilled job
- Earn more money
- Less likely to report depressive symptoms
- Lower rates of hypertension and obesity
- Significantly lower risk of heart disease
What’s So Special About Preschool?
A great early education program will focus on both cognitive development skills as well as personal and social skills. Preschool is about learning through designed play and exploration. Strategic activities and specific free play centers will teach and reinforce these skills. All while fostering creativity and a love of learning.
Your preschooler might spend the day building with blocks, singing songs, arts & crafts, and celebrating Earth Day. And the whole time they are learning! These types of play activities are teaching them concepts in all the subjects like math and science. At the same time, being in preschool is teaching them personal and social skills necessary to close that preschool gap. They are understanding how to stand in line, share with others, and follow instructions. They’re also learning to problem solve and transition from one activity to another. In other words, they are learning how to be a good student!
The long-term benefits of early childhood education are evident. Attending preschool builds a crucial foundation while promoting positive self-worth. It also develops a love for learning. Kids who attend preschool can walk into that Kindergarten classroom door with confidence. A confidence that will last long after the toss of that high school graduation cap.