AUSTIN (KXAN) – Years of wait lists, high costs and maybe buying a gift or two. Parents have a lot to consider if they want to send their child to preschool. Is it worth it? New research suggests it is.
A new study, published in the magazine Child Development, looked at 466 Chicago-area students over a ten-year period starting in 2004. Before the study began, the students, all from low-income families, were divided. Half of the students went to preschool and half did not. The students were then observed throughout that year of preschool and then again at the start of high school.
The results? Those that attended preschool had a quarter letter grade advantage over their peers, they also had short-term growth in vocabulary skills and long-term growth in math skills. Also, they had better impulse control and attention spans.
The Perry Preschool Project
This isn’t the first research into the benefits of preschool. The Perry Preschool Project followed students over two decades, beginning in 1962. That study used a similar methodology of a control group and a group that attended preschool, all of which were from low-income families.
The students who attended preschool completed more school (11.9 years compared to 11.0 years), had a higher graduation rate (66% compared to 45%), had fewer arrests by the age of 27 (2.5 arrests compared to 4.6), and had more in savings ($1,219 to $766).
The Perry Preschool Project helped lead to the standardization of preschool and pre-k programs across the country. It is still conducted to this day and led to the creation of the HighScope Curriculum, which emphasizes an open approach to learning.
Preschool vs Pre-K
In case you were wondering, there are a few differences between preschool and pre-k. First, the ages of the students are different. Preschools accept kids two and a half to four and half years old. Pre-K is meant for kids four to five years old. Also, preschool is more about learning through interactions as opposed to traditional teaching. Pre-K is meant for children preparing for kindergarten.
Outside of the educational benefits, experts say these programs help teach children how to socialize and even share, benefits that help in the classroom and beyond.