Enrolling in Preschool: A Benefit or Not?

May 23, 2017
 
Preschool boy and girl playing at a Lego table in classroom

SunUp Preschool

Recently in Washington DC, a few of the nation’s top early childhood education researchers met to discuss whether there is a benefit in sending your little ones to preschool. They all agreed that kids who attend public preschool programs are better prepared for kindergarten than kids who do not.

The researchers shared their findings in a report, “The Current State of Scientific Knowledge on Pre-Kindergarten Effects.” NPR shared a few key findings that the researchers identified in a Mind/Shift blog:

  • While all kids benefit from preschool, poor and disadvantaged kids often make the most gains.
  • Children who are dual-language learners “show relatively large benefits from pre-K education” — both in their English-language proficiency and in other academic skills.
  • That doesn’t mean preschool should necessarily be targeted toward poor or disadvantaged kids. “Part of what may render a pre-K classroom advantageous” for a poor student or a child learning English, “is the value of being immersed among a diverse array of classmates.”
  • Not all preschool programs are alike. Features that may lead to success include “a well implemented, evidence-based curriculum,” and an emphasis on the quality and continuous training of pre-K teachers.

The researchers also explored the preschool curriculum. There is a lot of debate on whether preschool should focus on a social-emotional curriculum or a curriculum that is centered on academic skills. The researchers found that instruction built on social and emotional skills, rich play, toys, games, art, music and movement enhances instruction focused on mastering academic skills.  Ultimately, the researchers agreed that a curriculum that encompasses both further helps prepare them for kindergarten.

Ultimately, it is your decision if you send your child to preschool. Whatever you decide, the shows, games, and activities from PBSKIDS are all designed to help foster the skills our little ones need to be ready for kindergarten.  The Illinois Edition of PBS LearningMedia has support articles and resources for parents as their children transition to other grades.