Mar 20, 2017

Preschool: Head Start or Hindrance?

In a new op-ed, early-education specialist Erika Christakis voices her concerns about today’s preschool system, which she says “is crushing kids.” What started out as a safe social space for children with two working parents has transformed into a full-blown kindergarten prep class with a heavy emphasis on “seat work” and tightly scripted curricula. Considering the high stakes surrounding kindergarten, it’s little wonder that preschool has amped up the workload: A study last year found that in 2010, the percentage of kindergarten teachers who expected their children to know how to read by year’s end was 80 percent. (In 1998, that share was just 30 percent.) Yet mounting evidence suggests that young Homelanders who are exposed to advanced concepts at an early age eventually perform worse in school. An evaluation of Tennessee’s preschool system found that preschool attendees fared worse on tests measuring literacy, language, and math skills by the time they were in second grade compared to their non-preschool peers.