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Not only are school-aged children heading to the school building, but so are many three- and four-year-olds. Some of these little boys and girls are barely potty trained and they are being sent away from the comfort of home. Why so early?
For nearly a decade parents have been told that they may be doing their children great harm by keeping them at home. Parents have been told that they cannot adequately prepare their little ones for the rigors of kindergarten or first grade. These things are best left to professionals. So off go tiny tots, lugging oversized backpacks, to an institution of learning.
The Universal Preschool movement began in the 1990s, but reached full steam when California put the issue before the voters. Many slogans, taken from a RAND Corporation study, made claims that children would be smarter, earn more money, not use drugs, and one ad even claimed Social Security would be saved. Who could deprive their child of that advantage?
Actually, real life hasn’t matched the claims. Government Accounting Office reports showing Head Start, the standard for most preschools, has not lived up to expectations. In fact, the much-reported statistic that says children who have been to preschool are academically ahead of their peers when entering kindergarten doesn’t hold true when the children get to third grade. All gains that seem to be made during preschool are lost. (See “The Real Numbers” from Preschool: At What Cost?)
Is your heart telling you that you have a better idea? That you are your child’s best teacher? As Dr. Benjamin Spock told several generations of parents, “Trust yourself.”
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