Is There a True Advantage to Pre-K?
More and more schools are now offering a pre-kindergarten program, and an increasing number of parents are eager to have their children start working on developing their academic knowledge at an early age. There is a general sense that the earlier we start something, the better. But is there really an advantage for children who attend pre-k versus those who do not? Let’s take a quick look at what the research tells us.
Academic progress: pre-k versus no pre-k
A recent study in the journal Developmental Psychology investigated the difference between children who attended a pre-k program and those who entered school at the kindergarten level a year later. Those attending pre-k showed better developed academic skills than their non-attending peers. Interestingly though, once both groups entered kindergarten, this difference began diminishing, and continued to do so until the spring. Overall, those who skipped pre-k and entered kindergarten directly seem to make similar learning gains by the end of the school year as those who attended pre-k.
That being said, what this study really shows us is that all children improve and develop their academic skills by attending kindergarten, whether or not they attended pre-k. In other words, it appears there are no clear academic benefits to sending your child to pre-k, BUT there are no distinct disadvantages either. In fact, pre-k can help them get accustomed to the routine of the school-day, the expectations in the classroom, and work on socialization with a large group of peers.
There may be reasons why pre-k programs are not setting children up to be ahead of their peers academically once they enter kindergarten. It is possible that the program needs re-design to better match children’s developmental capacities; this is an area where more research is required.
Pre-k: a personal family choice
Whether or not to send your child to pre-k or wait until kindergarten is a personal family choice. There are many reasons for and against sending your child to pre-k. What do you think would best suit your family for the upcoming school year? Will you be sending your child to pre-k?