The best start

A good preschool may be better than mom when it comes to preparing children for school success, suggests a new University of Wisconsin study cited on Richard Colvin’s EarlyStories. However, children who skipped preschool catch up on reading and math by third grade if they’re in classes with fewer than 20 students and receive more than 90 minutes a day of reading instruction.

Many preschools are focused on early education, not just play, said lead author Katherine Magnuson of the University of Wisconsin at Madison in the Ottawa Citizen.

“While it’s true parents can give one-on-one attention, they also run errands, talk to their friends, put them in front of the television.”

Parent quality varies considerably. But then so does preschool quality.

Small classes in the early grades provided a lasting benefit to students, especially low-income black students, in the Tennessee STAR study. The effect is strongest in kindergarten and first grade. Perhaps providing small classes and intensive reading instruction in the early grades would be more efficient than trying to get more kids in preschool.

As EarlyStories reports, the latest trend is extending kindergarten to a full day so kids have time for play and ABCs. Kindergarten is the new first grade, concludes an excellent series in the San Antonio News-Express. Early instruction doesn’t do much for children from educated families, who tend to do a lot of teaching at home, but it levels the field for disadvantaged children.

About Joanne


  1. Reduced class sizes? STAR study? Careful Joanne, you may convince yourself us teachers know what we’re talking about.