Research on early childhood education and the benefits of academic preschool have transformed the kindergarten environment. Academically and socially, expectations for children entering kindergarten are very different. They presuppose the kind of social and academic learning that young children would encounter in an academic preschool. Academic preschool programs are built on the fact that the early childhood years are the age at which human beings can learn most rapidly.
Early childhood years are the learning years
Academic preschool activities involve all kinds of social and academic skills. Children under the age of 5 are actually at their peak leaning capacity, and will rapidly assimilate everything they are taught. Languages, music, social skills, play, numbers and letters are all absorbed easily and quickly.
This is something everyone had encountered: parents, teachers and caregivers will tire of answering questions long before children run out of steam. This is the age at which kids are learning about the world around them, and everything is new to them. Biologically, too, they are at their peak learning capacity, which actually begins to slow down from 7 to 8 years of age.
Academic preschool programs build a lasting foundation
Based on early childhood research findings, an academic preschool curriculum prepares children for kindergarten and for their lives beyond. Educators now believe that a high quality education actually begins in preschool. Life cycle research that follows a cohort through their lives bears out the benefits of an academic pre-school program.
One such study followed 123 at-risk children living in poverty from ages 3 and 4 in 1962-67, till the time they reached the age of 40. The most recent phase of the study found that if they had attended pre-school, they were more likely to have graduated from high school and to have higher incomes. They also committed fewer crimes. These studies show that a pre-school education has a positive impact throughout an individual’s life.
Lifelong benefits of pre-school education
A high quality pre-school program makes a difference at every stage in a person’s life. Other studies have found that 25% of at-risk children who didn’t attend a quality pre-school are more likely to drop out of high school. And 60% of those children were more likely not to go to college. Of these children, 70% were more likely to be arrested for committing a violent crime.
These studies offer convincing proof of the lifelong value of the social and academic education offered by academic preschool programs. As this knowledge filters through into general awareness, enrollments at preschools have been growing. At this time, 75% of all young children in the U.S.are enrolled in a preschool program.
An academic preschool program is much more than a daycare center. Children are encouraged to learn, to make friends, to play and to be creative. Their natural curiosity and intelligence are encouraged, and they gain a solid foundation of learning for their future lives.