Ready or not, about four million U.S. children enter kindergarten each year.
A report issued Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Education says that not every child is ready for kindergarten or for success, and that “starting out from behind can trap them in a cycle of continuous catch-up in their learning.”
“I believe that every single child deserves the opportunity for a strong start in life through high-quality preschool, and expanding those opportunities must be part of the ESEA (Elementary and Secondary School Act),” Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, said in January. Congress is expected to debate reauthorization of the ESEA this year.
The Department of Education Report, titled “A Matter of Equity: Preschool in America,” notes that the early years of a child’s education are a “critical period in children’s learning and development, providing the necessary foundation for more advanced skills.” Research has shown that language skills in children ages one to two can predict their pre-literacy skills at age five.
“Children who participate in high-quality preschool programs have better healthy, social-emotional, and cognitive outcomes than those who do not participate,” the report said. “Studies also reveal that participating in quality early learning can boost children’s educational attainment and earnings later in life.”
The study found that, nationally, 59 percent of four-year-olds (nearly six out of ten or 2.642 million four-year-olds) are not enrolled in publicly funded preschool programs and that even fewer are enrolled in the highest quality programs. The report acknowledges that preschool opportunities vary widely state-to-state and based on geography, race, and income.
Latino preschoolers face the greatest obstacles with only a 40 percent participation rate in publicly-funded programs compared to roughly 50 percent for African-American children and 53 percent for white children. Additionally, the report found substantial gaps in participation levels for low income students and the lowest scores for reading and math in kindergarten students from households below the federal poverty level.
Parents who want to ensure that their child receive a high-quality preschool education should look into all options available.
One option is K12’s award-winning EmbarK12 program, designed to help preschoolers get off to the best possible academic start. Designed by the nation’s leader in K-12 online education, EmbarK12 offers more than 800 fun, safe, and easy-to-use games and activities, integrating core subjects of math, language arts, science, social studies, art, and music. It’s designed to not only boost early learning skills but spark excitement in eager, young minds.
Not sure if your child is ready for kindergarten. Check out some key factors to consider before your child takes that next step.