I have always been quite interested in pre-k and the ways in which it helps kids develop and grow. In my journey of looking into all things pre-k in order to learn more about the benefits of the system, I’ve stumbled upon some strong findings from a Duke University research study that took place between the years of 1995 and 2010 (published in the News and Observer in 2014). First off, it’s been found that enrolling a child in early education reduces the child’s need for special education courses from kindergarten to third grade. Secondly, if a child is specifically enrolled in the NC Pre-K system by the age of four, the likelihood of the child needing to be placed in special education courses is lowered by thirty-two percent.
THIRTY – TWO PERCENT?! How could this be?!
Turns out, the structure of pre-k, in addition to the teachers and curriculum, can actually reduce the risk of a child developing an attention disorder and other problems that are generally related to special education.
Unfortunately, the number of children who come from low socio-economic classes who are not enrolled in pre-k is extremely high. This low enrollment is caused by the regulations of the state and the amount of parents who just aren’t aware of what’s available regarding early childhood education. I feel that it’s extremely important to try and educate all parents on the importance of pre-k, and provide them with statistics and facts to encourage them to try and enroll their children in daycare or pre-k.
The reasons that not all children are enrolled in pre-k vary depending on family situation. Some parents are able to stay at home with their children, provide a nanny, or another family member to take care of their child. Others are told their children don’t fit the qualifications of NC pre-k, which require a child to have an identifiable disability or the family to earn below the median annual income of NC residents yearly. If a child does not qualify for pre-k, parents may opt to pay the ridiculously expensive prices for public daycare, or place their child in a center that isn’t as expensive (but also isn’t as good).
In reviewing parent’s options for their children regarding childcare and early childhood education, it’s apparent, I think, that all children should be given the opportunity to enroll in pre-k. The other options (besides expensive five star childcare centers) just don’t provide children with the knowledge and foundation that pre-k is able to. The benefits of pre-k are tremendous, and it seems that if all children were able to attend pre-k, more of them would thrive later on in school. The Duke study shows that early childhood education not only helps the individual, but also aids in shrinking the achievement gap between students from high and low income families.
In my research, I’m finding that pre-k is extremely helpful in helping children grow and develop. In a perfect world, I would like for every parent to be aware of the benefits of pre-k and have the ability to enroll their child, regardless of disability or income level. Early childhood education is key in a person’s growth and development, and without it, children may not be reaching their full potential.