The idea that preschool is a vital part of a child’s education and that a high-quality preschool is crucial to academic success is supported by several recent studies.
Three years ago, Arthur Reynolds, a professor of social work at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, published the results of a 15-year study of the highly regarded Child-Parent Centers of Chicago. Reynolds found that children from these preschools were nearly 30 percent more likely to graduate from high school, and about 40 percent less likely to repeat a grade, than other children. His study has often been cited as proof of the importance of a high-quality preschool that focuses on reading, literacy and math, as well as the social and emotional development of its students.
Indeed, since Chicago’s Child-Parent Centers work primarily with children from disadvantaged backgrounds, they seem to demonstrate even more decisively that by bringing in children at an early age, no matter what their family situation, it is possible to instill the academic basics and help them succeed.
A year earlier, the groundbreaking report Eager to Learn: Educating Our Preschoolers asserted that even before entering kindergarten, children can learn language and the fundamentals of reading, math and science to a far greater extent than previously thought.
These two studies came on the heels of state-of-the-art brain research, documented in From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development, which demonstrated that a child’s interactions and experiences in the first few years of life have a profound and lasting impact on social, emotional, intellectual and language development.
Early childhood educators now believe a balance of both social/emotional learning and early academics is key to a child’s future success in school.
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– Judy Molland