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Earlier this month, President Obama said he wanted to make high quality preschool available to every child in America. This would be financed through federal funds for all 4-year-olds from low and moderate-income families.  Many people question whether a federally funded daycare with preschool curriculum would be a better National goal than public preschool.  However, investing in public preschool will benefit children and families, and will increase the probability of these students finishing school and going to college and/or joining the work force.  

Regardless of their backgrounds, children who enter kindergarten with early literacy, social, language, and fine motor skills are better equipped to succeed in kindergarten compared to children who don’t.  Furthermore, expectations have changed greatly over the years for children.  Now, with the common core standards, children are expected to have a sound foundation in reading skills by the time they leave kindergarten. Children who are “not” ready to read going into first grade struggle greatly to “catch up” to other students.  By the time these struggling students enter third grade (when high-stakes testing is mandatory) they are a grade level or more behind, and their confidence is low.

Research has shown that early literacy skills (letter knowledge and decoding skills) are crucial for developing proficient reading and writing skills.  Additionally, early exposure to text and print concepts support literacy development and result in long term academic success (Barnett, W. S., Young, J. W., & Schweinhart, L. J. (1998).)  So, having a high-quality preschool program would provide students with these early literacy skills and better prepare them for kindergarten. In addition to early literacy skills, another important factor in determining a child’s school-readiness is vocabulary.  Early development in vocabulary has been found to predict word recognition skills. (NICHD Early Child Care Research Network, 2005). Students who enter school having developed the necessary components for early literacy skills and vocabulary development will be confident learners and will carry success with them throughout their educational career.
 
Though federally funded day care is also very important for working families, providing a high quality preschool program is even more critical.  To ensure these programs are high-caliber, they must be led by certified, well-trained teachers who will provide children with the skills necessary to be successful students throughout their entire educational career.  So, while there are many facets to early childhood education related to ensuring the growth and success of our nation, it is becoming increasingly important to consider investing in a high-quality preschool for all children. 

References:

Barnett, W. S., Young, J. W., & Schweinhart, L. J. (1998). How preschool education influences long-term cognitive development and school success. In W.S. Barnett, & S. S. Boocock (Eds.), Early care and education for children in poverty: Promises, programs, and long-term results (pp. 11–44). Albany, NY: State University of NewYork Press.)

NICHD Early Child Care Research Network. (2005). Pathways to reading: The role of oral language in the transition to reading. Developmental Psychology, 41, 428–442. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.41.2.428


Samantha Lingeman
Indianapolis, IN 




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