Ever wonder what your kids are learning in preschool?
Many hardworking parents sometimes ask themselves if spending a huge portion of the family budget to prepare their children for formal education is worth it.
They see their kids merrily interacting with their teachers and classmates, playing games, singing songs and drawing pictures. But is that all there is to it? Our kids could do those things at home and we won’t have to spend a penny on fees, the parents find themselves thinking.
But preschool is important, education experts assert. It’s the classroom setting, the interaction between kids of the same age, and the guidance of professionals that matter. You can’t have those things at home.
In the United States, President Barack Obama is urging Congress to fund an expansion of all-day kindergarten and to make pre-kindergarten universal, saying that spending on the youngest students will pay off with better performance throughout their school years and careers, Bloomberg reports.
Well, findings of a new study on early education seem to support his contention.
The study, published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that children are better prepared for learning and social interaction in full-time preschool than in part-time programs.
The study involved 982 kids, aged three and four, coming from low-income and ethnic-minority families, and enrolled in Chicago’s Child-Parent Center Education Program, which is funded by the US federal government.
According to the study, kids in full-day programs showed higher scores in social development, language, mathematics and physical health than their part-day peers.
“You can just go so much further in all the domains of learning in a seven-hour program,” Arthur J. Reynolds, a researcher at the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis who led the study, told Bloomberg in an interview. “These 30 to 40 percent differences in preschool turn into bigger benefits over time.”
However, the study also shows that scores in literacy and cognition tests were similar whether preschoolers were full-time or part-time.
Now the question is whether the benefits of full days versus a few hours are enough to justify the bigger federal budget needed to provide longer preschool hours, said Lawrence Schweinhart, president of HighScope Educational Research Foundation.
Parents should prefer longer preschool hours for their kids as that would give them more time to pursue their own careers and perform other activities, the study notes.
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