Despite some attempts by those who want to spend as little money as possible on public education, publicly-funded pre-Kindergarten and Early Head Start Programs are catching on.
It’s been less than five years since New York Mayor Bill de Blasio launched a publicly-funded pre-K program for four-year-olds in New York, the first major city to do so. The program, the largest in the country, is now acknowledged to be a major success by child authorities. The NY Times reported January 2 that “about 94 percent of the city pre-K programs meet or exceed the threshold that predicts positive outcomes after pre-K, the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale, developed by a coalition of experts.
Program Expanding to Three-Year-Olds
Beginning in 2014, the program now enrolls about 70,000 children and is apparently improving as it grows. Building upon its broad popularity, the program last year expanded to take in three-year-olds, starting with 8,000 children in six low-income neighborhoods with the goal of being available throughout the city in 2021.
Among the criteria by which the child care centers in the program were judged were:
- A clear nap schedule,
- Lots of opportunity for children to talk,
- Children playing together in small groups and only a few times when the class is gathered together as a whole,
- Well-placed, orderly places where children work and play with plenty of miniature chairs and tables,
- Well-trained teachers who laugh and smile often and who know that when children misbehave the teacher does not yell or berate them but tells them what they did wrong and what they should do better next time.
- Positive results in the child’s early development The program has scored particularly high on the development of children’s language and reasoning skills.
Maintaining the Pre-K Experiene
Child care authorities note that, in order to maintain the progress made by these programs, it is necessary to upgrade kindergarten and elementary schools because poor or mediocre such schools can erase the gains of the pre-K experience.
Another advantage of the early childhood programs, as recently reported by Child Trends, is that it reduces parenting stress and family conflict and subsequently helps prevent child maltreatment. Good child care centers work in conjunction with parents and help to promote emotionally warm, responsive parenting practices.