A lot of people, looking back on their own childhood, or even that of their children, see pre-kindergarten classes and maybe even all-day kindergarten as frivolous, at best, and, at worst, just a babysitting service.
But most educators would disagree, instead, pointing to recent research that suggests failure to provide such classes is a lost opportunity.
Kristen Peck, the Bristol School District’s supervisor of early childhood, was quoted in The Bristol Press, citing statistics from the Harvard Center on the Developing Child, which show that “90 percent of the child’s brain development happens before the age of five.” As a result, “children in quality preschool programs are less likely to repeat grades, need special education or get into trouble with the law.”
We have known for over 50 years that pre-school learning can make a difference in a child’s development. And we know that kids who get the chance to attend early childhood classes have a head start over their less fortunate classmates.
As Megan Lombardi, a pre-K teacher at Greene Hills, told the Bristol Board of Education recently, “pre-K is not just playing anymore. We’re really trying to get them ready for kindergarten. The standards are so high now, and having the full-day kindergarten program, we really have to get these kids prepared.”
Just as important, she added, “these kids are ready to absorb all of this.”
Dave Mills, the City Council’s liaison to the board, said not enough parents take advantage of the free preschool programs the district has to offer.
Or, as he put it, “the kids are the ones that are losing out.”