Everyone can agree high-quality preschool experiences are extremely beneficial for young children. Children attending these programs have greater academic gains and the socialization leads to stronger social and emotional skills (check out our October 12th blog post: The Value of Socialization). But, did you know these benefits actually stretch throughout the child’s lifetime? In October, The Wall Street Journal published an article entitled “The Lasting Benefits of Preschool” so we decided to dive into the research.
The Center for American Progress states, “Decades of research have also shown that investing in our children at an early age pays social, educational, and economic dividends over the course of a child’s lifetime.” One study found evidence that preschools effects on early vocabulary and math skills positively impacted students high school grades. The First Five Years Fund explains children who attend high-quality preschool programs are more likely to own a home and less likely to receive government assistance in adulthood AND have lower rates of felony arrests, convictions, and incarceration.
In 2015, The U.S. Department of Education published “A Matter of Equity: Preschool in America” summarizing some of the research conducted over the last few decades.
A robust body of research shows that children who participate in high-quality preschool programs have better health, social-emotional, and cognitive outcomes than those who do not participate. The gains are particularly powerful for children from low-income families and those at risk for academic failure who, on average, start kindergarten 12 to 14 months behind their peers in pre-literacy and language skills. Studies also reveal that participating in quality early learning can boost children’s educational attainment and earnings later in life. Children who attend high-quality preschool programs are less likely to utilize special education services or be retained in their grade, and are more likely to graduate from high school, go on to college, and succeed in their careers than those who have not attended high-quality preschool programs. Research also suggests that expanding early learning – including high-quality preschool – provides society with a return on investment of $8.60 for every $1 spent. About half of the return on investment originates from increased earnings for children when they grow up.
You may be wondering what to look for in a high-quality preschool program. Have no fear! The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) explains “What Does a High-Quality Preschool Program Look Like?“. Look for things like helping children learn how to play, work together, and make friends and teachers planning challenging yet attainable learning goals for individual children. Click the link to read all of NAEYC’s suggestions for identifying a high-quality preschool.
The First Five Years Fund, Lifelong Gains
Harvard Graduate School of Education, Lasting Gains from Preschool