Recent studies suggest that all children benefit from quality preschool. In a study of the universal preschool program in Tulsa, Oklahoma, all socio-economic groups were found to benefit. Children eligible for free lunch scored better on all three sections of the Woodcock-Johnson Achievement Test, and children from more affluent families experienced statistically significant gains on two of the three sections. Quality matters whether “you are rich or poor,” and the influence of quality in early childhood settings on academic and social learning appears to be independent of a child’s home environment. At the same time, studies have shown that low-quality preschool programs may actually undermine child development and school readiness. When programs do not meet quality standards, disappointing outcomes have been found in both private child care and publicly funded preschool programs, such as Head Start and state-funded prekindergarten. Although the quality matters for all children, it is especially important for children from low-income families. Because their “home environments frequently do not strongly support their language and social development, they are particularly vulnerable to the effects of low-quality preschool,” according to Zigler, Gilliam, and Jones (2006, p. 118), “children in poor quality care are more likely to show delays in language, reading, and other cognitive skills and more likely to display aggressive behavior.”
In A Vision for Universal Preschool Education, Zigler, Gilliam, and Jones (2006, p. 125) offer the following recommendations. Preschool programs should:
This document is part of the California Preschool Planning Toolkit.
AIR & KHS
|Organization(s):||AIR & KHS|
National Context, National Studies, Program Elements, Learning Standards