Preschool is school for children prior to kindergarten. Preschool programs exist for all ages of children before they begin traditional school and many different types of classes exist. Is preschool beneficial for children? Although most would assume that preschool is beneficial for children, recent studies have found some detrimental effects on children enrolled.
Children attending preschool classes can experience negative effects in their social and emotional development according to a study conducted by Berkeley and Stanford research teams. The large study of over 14,000 children clearly demonstrated the negative impact preschool can have in these areas of development. Children attending preschool, particularly in the middle-class, showed a lag in social and emotional development when compared to children that did not attend preschool. The negative effects were more prevalent in children who attended a preschool program for six or more hours a day.
The same study also found positive benefits in early reading and math skills. Children enrolled in preschool programs showed a slight edge in these academic areas when compared to children not attending a preschool program. The advances were especially great in lower-income families. Other studies, including research performed to study Oklahoma’s state funded pre-k program, have shown improvement for children in math and reading in all socio-economic levels.
The benefits of preschool have come under debate under recent years due to some government pushes for state-funded and mandatory preschool programs. Mandatory programs have lost some support, but many state funded preschool programs exist or are currently in the works. The critics of such programs are using the results of the Berkeley and Stanford study and the very large price tag of universal preschool to oppose the efforts. Supporters, on the other hand, are citing the many benefits for lower income and at-risk children preschool provides, plus the studies that demonstrate gains for all students.
Preschool’s benefits and disadvantages may need to weighed against every family and child’s unique situation. For some students, preschool programs yield high academic results. For other children, preschool may be best skipped or limited to a few days or hours a week to avoid developmental lags. Preschool does not appear to have a universal style that is beneficial for all students, but preschool does provide benefits for many students.
Maclay, Kathleen. Berkeley News New report examines effects nationwide of preschool on kids’ development
Scholastic Administrator Universal Preschool: Is it Necessary?
Gormely Jr., W.T.Science Preschool Programs Can Boost School Readiness