Should your child attend a public preschool?
There are many states throughout the U.S. that offer public preschool programs to residents.
New Jersey, Florida, Georgia, and Oklahoma are just a few of the states that have these types of preschool programs in place. Most of these states allow parents to send their children to preschool, free of charge.
If you live in a state that provides universal preschool, you might be wondering whether or not it's the best option for your child.
There are quite a few positives and negatives that come along with it. It's turned into a controversial topic in recent years with people arguing both for and against problems like Head Start. Take a look at both sides of the argument below.
Many parents will love the pros that come along with bringing their children to preschool every morning. Those pros will outweigh many of the cons associated with it. Let's start by checking out some of these positives.
Public Preschool Provides Early Education Options for Low-Income Families
The average cost of preschool in the U.S. can range from about $4,000 all the way up to $13,000.
There are some families who can afford to pay that kind of money to send their kids to preschool programs. But are also many who cannot fathom doing it.
Public preschool is a great solution for those low-income families that want to enroll their kids in an educational program. As long as they're able to meet certain requirements, they can enroll their children in preschool and allow them to reap the rewards of it.
Outside of providing their children with early education, universal preschool also allows many parents to go back to work. They can provide better for their children as preschool can serve as an affordable daycare option.
Parents don't have to worry about where their kids will go during the day when they're at work with preschool. They're given the opportunity to send them to a safe preschool setting that will aid in their development.
It Also Increases a Child's Chances of Succeeding in School
There has been a lot of debate over the effect public preschool has on kids once they go to school.
Some people feel as though preschool helps immensely. Others argue that attending preschool has little impact on how children perform in school later. But there are studies that have been done that suggest that attending preschool is extremely beneficial for kids.
One study, in particular, found that a large group of students who attended Head Start preschools in Oklahoma scored higher on state math tests at the end of middle school than those who didn't attend them.
There is still a lot of research that needs to be done on the correlation between universal preschool and the success kids have once they enter school. But for now, there is at least some indication that preschool works wonders. It seems to help prepare young kids for kindergarten and beyond.
Preschool Teachers Encourage Children to Have Better Self-Esteem
Enrolling your 4-year-old child into a public preschool program will do more than just get them ready to hit the books later into their educational lives.
It can also help to improve their self-esteem. Your child might feel better about themselves simply by spending a few months in a preschool program.
Studies have shown that many children develop their self-esteem by the time they hit the age of 5. They do it by taking the positive and negative reinforcements they get from the world and using them to form their self-esteem.
If your child isn't enrolled in a preschool program, he or she may not be getting all of the positive reinforcement necessary to develop a healthy self-esteem. And that's not a knock on you as a parent. It's simply a sign that your child isn't being exposed to the type of reinforcement kids need when they're growing.
By sending your child to universal preschool, you can help them to develop better self-esteem in many cases.
Good preschool teachers are taught techniques for improving self-esteem and can use them to help your child.
Preschool Teaches Children How to Socialize With Others
Young children don't know how to socialize well with others, because they haven't had many chances to do it on a regular basis.
Even if they have an older sibling or a cousin who is close in age, they haven't been exposed to interactions with groups of kids in their age group. As a result of this, many young children enter kindergarten without knowing how to interact with other kids. It forces teachers to spend a lot of time teaching kids about things like sharing and respecting others rather than focusing on more important lessons.
By sending your child to a public preschool program, you will be giving them the opportunity to interact with others regularly.
While not all young kids react to this positively, your child's teacher will be able to work with them to show your son or daughter how to behave in the presence of others.
Finally, It Ensures Children Have Access to Nutritious Meals and Health Care
There are, unfortunately, far too many young children in this country who aren't getting the nutritious meals they need in order for their bodies to develop. These meals are absolutely essential to growth.
Many universal preschool programs reinforce this belief by providing children with the healthy meals they need to grow. They also push for parents to provide children with the proper health care through services available from their specific states. They give parents every opportunity to keep their kids healthy.
Often times, preschools will even ask parents to find out information regarding a child's family health history. There are some parents who don't know this information themselves and have to educate themselves about it.
This benefits all parties involved. It allows children to get access to the healthcare services that are required at the early stages of life.
While there are many pros associated with preschool, you should also consider the cons that come with it. Here are several of the knocks against enrolling your kids in preschool classes.
Public Preschool Usually Only Benefits Those With Lower Incomes
One of the biggest arguments made against public preschool is that it's typically only in place for those who make below a certain household income every year.
That has attached a certain stigma to it and turned it into a source of contention for those who don't qualify for it.
It has also forced some parents across the country to make difficult decisions regarding their own aspirations. If they make too much money, their children won't be able to attend universal preschool programs. This can sometimes limit their own growth in their careers.
Fortunately, most children only attend preschool for two years, tops, so this isn't something that parents need to worry about for very long. But if they have multiple children, it might be something that could affect them over the course of several years.
It Takes Away Resources That Could Be Used at Higher Levels of Education
Another argument often made against public preschool programs is that they end up chewing into the resources that are available for those at higher levels of education.
Some states have opted against providing universal preschool for younger children for that very reason.
Those who advocate for preschool for all will often argue that it benefits the entire educational system. They'll say it puts children of all socioeconomic levels on an even playing field once they enter school. They argue that student bodies are more successful when this happens.
However, those who aren't able to take advantage of public preschool programs for their kids argue against that line of reasoning. They wonder why they have to pay for educational programs their kids don't even use.
This is why universal preschool is such a hot-button issue. People can't seem to agree on whether or not preschool for all is a good thing.
It could impact the decision you make when you're thinking about enrolling your child in public preschool.
Preschool Pushes Some Children Into Social Settings Before They're Ready
For years now, parents have been enrolling their kids in preschool programs in order to help acclimate them to the social settings they'll deal with once they go to kindergarten.
As we mentioned earlier, this is usually a good thing because it allows kids to socialize with others and learn how to do it effectively.
But--and this is a big but for some parents out there--what if your young child isn't ready for this step in their development? There are many children who, for whatever reason, just aren't ready to enter the social scene as a 3- or 4-year-old. As a result, their social development could actually be stunted if you force them to do it.
Parents really need to take the time to determine if preschool will be beneficial for their kids on a social level.
If they aren't ready to start socializing with other kids just yet, you might not want to sign them up for a preschool program. It can do more harm than good in the long run.
Preschool Teachers Aren't Usually Paid Well
Public preschool programs will give your children access to teachers who have been trained to work at schools. But Head Start and other programs don't always attract the best of the best when it comes to recruiting teachers.
The reason for this is pretty simple.
Public preschool teachers don't usually make as much money as those who teach at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. And they just about always make less than teachers at private preschools.
Fortunately, this is combated by the fact that many of these preschool teachers have an unmatched commitment to helping children. You'll find many excellent Head Start teachers who realize their jobs are about more than just paychecks. They truly want the best for your kids.
When deciding whether to enroll your child in a universal preschool program, you should take the time to meet with teachers. Ask them how they plan to provide the best education for your child.
This is something that parents who are trying to pick out a private preschool do all the time. Just because you don't have as much flexibility when it comes to choosing a public preschool doesn't mean you have to sacrifice and allow just anyone to be your child's teacher.
Early Education Hasn't Been Studied Enough to Prove Benefits
Public preschool is something that's been around for decades now. Head Start got its start all the way back in the 1960s, and it has been educating young children ever since.
But even though public preschool has a long history, there still haven't been a whole lot of studies done on it. So there's really no definitive way of telling if your child will benefit from you enrolling them in a preschool program.
Part of this is because universal preschool is something that is still only available in some states. If it becomes more universally accepted at some point in the future, there should be more studies available on it at that point.
But part of it is also because preschool as a whole is still something that is misunderstood. There simply hasn't been enough research done into it to tell parents if they should vote for or against it in the years leading up to kindergarten.
At the end of the day, only you can decide if preschool is right for your child. You should weigh the pros and cons listed here and come up with some others to make your decision easier.
Decide If Public Preschool Is Right for Your Child
Choosing whether to send your child to preschool is one of the many decisions you will have to make as a parent.
From picking the right dentist to finding the right doctor, there are so many important choices. You should do your homework before you make any of them.
Check out our blog for more tips on taking care of your young children and giving them the best life possible.