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Opinion | Pre-K is powerful, but only if you do it right

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 Opinion |  Pre-K is powerful, but only if you do it right

According to preschool education experts, a quality program includes small classes and a low student-teacher ratio, with well-trained teachers, an evidence-based curriculum that focuses on hands-on learning rather than instructions on eating your own. spinach. Alphabet or coloring inside lines, and plenty of time to play. The focus is on the physical, social and emotional growth of children as well as their cognitive development. In this situation, teenagers, mostly from different walks of life, solve problems together and their teachers talk. withno onthem.

In other words, a good preschool is the place you would like to be when you were 4 years old.

Although many studies have shown that the impact of high-quality preschools can be felt over the years, only a minority of pre-school programs meet this standard. After surveying preschools across the country, W. Stephen Barnett, senior co-director of the National Institute for Preschool Education Research, concluded that “preschool children typically spend most of their time in regular activities, including waiting or preparing for something and little. time learning new concepts, getting feedback from teachers and learning to plan and reflect on their actions and experiences ”.

The preschool garden realizes its promises only when it enters the first grade. This conclusion was reached by Timothy J. Bartik and Brad Hershbain of the WE Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, conducted by Timothy J. Bartik and Brad Hershbain, a nationwide analysis of the impact of preschools on reading outcomes and fourth-graders’ achievement in mathematics “Pre-K Effectiveness at Large Scate.” In states with high-quality programs, pre-K attendance increases fourth-grade math scores by 2.8 percent, and African-American students earn even more. However, the caliber of prior learning for the average middle school student is not good enough to bring significant benefits. The bottom line: “For large-scale pre-K expansion to make sense, policymakers need to maintain quality.”

The program in Tennessee was a model of what no to do. “The state didn’t have a holistic vision,” Dale K. Faran, a professor at Vanderbilt University and co-author of the study in Tennessee, told me. “Left to himself, each teacher invented the pre-K on his own.”

Observers who sat in nearly 300 classes before the start of K reported that the lion’s share was spoken by teachers. Such skills training can introduce children to the basic facts, but these successes disappear if they are not tied to deeper learning. “The most common activity in both sets of classrooms was the transition,” adds Dr. Faran, “the transition of children from classes to classes without the possibility of learning at this time.”

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