Pre-kindergarten programs help at-risk students prepare for school

16 Jul

In Early learning standards and the K-12 continuum, moi said:

Preschool is a portal to the continuum of life long learning. A good preschool stimulates the learning process and prompts the child into asking questions about their world and environment. Baby Center offers advice about how to find a good preschool and general advice to expectant parents. At the core of why education is important is the goal of equipping every child with the knowledge and skills to pursue THEIR dream, whatever that dream is. Christine Armario and Dorie Turner are reporting in the AP article, AP News Break: Nearly 1 in 4 Fails Military Exam which appeared in the Seattle Times:

Nearly one-fourth of the students who try to join the U.S. Army fail its entrance exam, painting a grim picture of an education system that produces graduates who can’t answer basic math, science and reading questions, according to a new study released Tuesday.

Many children begin their first day of school behind their more advantaged peers. Early childhood learning is an important tool is bridging the education deficit.

eSchool News.Com reports that the Pre-K Coalition, which includes the American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, Council of Chief State School Officers, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of State Boards of Education, National Education Association, and the National School Boards Association has released the report, The Importance of Aligning Pre-K through 3rd Grade.”

Gains made in high-quality preschool programs must be sustained and built upon throughout the K-3 years, according to the report. Robust P-3 initiatives align comprehensive early learning standards with state K-3 content standards in an effort to promote children’s healthy development, social and emotional skills, and learning. Those standards should be connected and build upon one another so that pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, and primary grade educators can develop and select effective curricula, teaching strategies, and assessment systems. Teaching teams should engage in joint professional development….
The Common Core State Standards hold promise in helping schools connect early learning to later grades, but many state K-12 systems might not connect to early childhood education systems within the same state….

Our goals should be: A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood. ©

Think small, Not small minded ©

Money spent on early childhood programs is akin to yeast for bread. The whole society will rise.

Nancy Cambria writes in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch article, School camps in St. Louis area aim to give incoming kindergartners a leg up. The St. Louis programs are typical of many pre-kindergarten programs which are aimed at giving at-risk children a running start.

Some in the child development field worry that the programs are indicative of a national push by too many school districts to regiment young children into rigid, performance-based academic learning too early.

“I don’t have a problem that children have a four-week introduction to going to school in the summer, but you don’t want them to burn out and get them turned-off to school,” warned Joan Almon, director of programs for the Alliance for Children at the University of Maryland.

Administrators and teachers at Hazelwood said the monthlong program that ended last week gives children a chance to test the waters of a more structured school environment so they have less anxiety and more academic and social confidence in the coming school year.

Most of the classrooms are led by district kindergarten teachers, which, at bare minimum, gives the students the chance to know familiar faces when the school year starts in August, said Shanon Drennan, the coordinator for Sunny Start at Garrett Elementary.

For teachers, such programs get more children up to speed earlier on the basic routines and early reading and writing skills needed for an intensive learning year ahead. That makes things easier from the start for teachers who must achieve a lot of goals with their students in just nine months, Drennan said.

Mary Carver said her daughter, Annabell Wallsmith, loves Sunny Start.

“It gets my kid motivated to jump into kindergarten,” she said. “She’s learning the social skills, and it gets her more ready to read.”


But Almon worries that the motivation behind kindergarten summer school in some districts is to prepare students earlier for mandatory assessment testing and to move them away from the free play and exploration that research suggests enhances learning in young children.

“I just think that when we get caught in thinking the most regimented approach will be the best way, I haven’t seen them bring about a love of learning or a comfort with a group situation or an excitement about learning,” she said.

In the most extreme example she’s seen, Almon said, one North Carolina school district openly praised a teacher in their kindergarten summer “boot camp” program who wore military fatigues as she shouted lessons in ABCs and 1-2-3s….

Almon said the push she has seen toward rigid academics is particularly common in lower-income school districts where the stakes for funding and accreditation are high. She cites one study that found kindergartners in New York and Los Angeles public schools spent two to three hours a day in chairs working on literacy, math and testing and allowed about 20 minutes of play time.

At St. Louis Public Schools, Cheryl Davenport, the director of early childhood programs, said the district’s free “Kindergarten Here I Come!” program focuses heavily on play, though academic enrichment is a clear goal for their students.

The program, which has been running for more than a decade, enrolled about 400 children this summer. Although it’s open to all St. Louis children about to enter kindergarten, Davenport said the bulk of the program’s students are recommended by district preschool teachers who identify them as perhaps needing “a little bit of extra time and focus on basic skills such as early reading and early writing.”

But, she stressed, the program is geared toward fun. So math and lessons are typically given outside at the water table with measuring cups. Prereading and science come through cooking and art projects.

“Our program is meant to provide additional enrichment time,” she said.

One of the major contributors to poverty in third world nations is limited access to education opportunities. Without continued sustained investment in education in this country, we are the next third world country.


The state of preschool education is dire              

Seattle Research Institute study about outside play

College Board’s ‘Big Future’: Helping low-income kids apply to college                                                              

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

7 Responses to “Pre-kindergarten programs help at-risk students prepare for school”


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