Teach Your Children Well

Several successful politicians ran on platforms that included “universal Pre-K” this fall. So did lots of unsuccessful politicians, for that matter. Still, the issue — getting more kids into education earlier on to give them a better shot in life — seems to be one about which people generally agree. This is Pre-K, mind you, as distinct from “preschool,” and not “daycare” or “kindergarten” either. Confused? Sure, why wouldn’t you be. The Atlantic explains.

Less than half of all 3- and 4-year-olds across the country are enrolled in any sort of early education, largely because of how pricey these programs can be. That’s a shame, advocates argue, considering the research showing the positive, long-term impact a quality early-education experience can have on a child’s life — all the more so if that child comes from a low-income family. In particular, these advocates want every child to have the opportunity to attend prekindergarten. …

In edu-speak, pre-k typically refers to a specific category of early learning that focuses on ensuring kids are prepared for kindergarten. The premise is that a child’s readiness for kindergarten can put that student significantly ahead of one who isn’t ready. This is what causes the achievement gap, and that gap only widens over time. …

Other sectors have joined the cause, too, including business leaders and big-box corporations that say pre-k is key to developing a skilled workforce and stimulating the country’s economy. Moreover, pre-k is seen as an economic investment because it’s believed to reduce the chances a kid will drop out of school, get arrested, and rely on social services, as well as significantly increase that person’s earning potential.

Seems like a no-brainer to me as smart and cost-effective early intervention / attempt to level the playing field, but then, I went to pre-school, which included Pre-K at the time. When I arrived in kindergarten I was prepared. I had experience sitting at a desk, waiting in lines, and participating in a classroom; I even knew how to read, though that was sort of incidental: my father was trying to teach my big brother and I muscled my way in. That’s not just a head start, that’s like getting to start a race an hour early.

I know that some people object because they like the idea of moms or caregivers being more one-on-one with kids for longer periods of time. Why shuffle children into institutions before we have to? But since my mom worked, that wasn’t an option for me and it isn’t for millions of other families either.

Did anyone not have a good experience with Pre-K/pre-school, either as a kid or a parent? Is there a downside to making this investment?

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