Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Universal Preschool, What High-Quality Education Really Means

“Make high-quality preschool available to every child in America”, says President Obama in his recent State of the Union Address.  This proposal he referred to research that has demonstrated long term positive effects of attending high-quality preschool programs.  The early childhood community got excited in President Obama’s support.  And it seems like a very good proposal, expanding a high-quality preschool opportunities, what could go wrong?  But the question is “What does “high-quality” mean in practice?”

According to educators and economists “high-quality” preschools means teachers are adequately paid, facilities are adequate, and the ratio of staff to children is low.  Those mentioned are really significant elements of quality and if not achieved there could be serious problems.  In reality, high-quality is otherwise as preschool educators are often very poorly paid, poorly educated themselves, and lack decent facilities.  The low salaries results to a bad quality and poor performance of the teachers.  So this proposal for ensuring universal access to high-quality preschools is aiming high for current preschoolers are already struggling with quality and funding issues.

Aside from money matters, there is a question raised about how preschool programs should be structured.  Compare to no preschool there are a lot of advantages of high-quality preschool.  And although there are a lot of researches supporting the latter, there is fewer research showing different benefits of different preschool approaches.

By means of standard preschool teaching methods the Preschool Curriculum Effectiveness Research initiative weigh against a number of promising approaches to each other and to groups.  You can see the results summarized review on the Best Evidence Encyclopedia.  And consequently only a small number of programs illustrated child outcomes superior to those achieved by other programs, by the end of kindergarten.  The best outcomes for children are planned programs that mainly focused on language and emergent literacy, giving children many opportunities to use language to work together, solve challenges, and develop positive relationships with each other.

Nowadays, early childhood education has also evolved in many ways such as technology has so far played a modest role in it, but this may change as multimedia devices become more commonly used.  Children cannot be technologically late, they must understand how the world works, and technology offers opportunities for teachers to enhance language development by engaging children with brief content that helps them to do so.  They can watch videos on DVD and educational television, things like that helps.

But this doesn’t mean that technology has to replace the early childhood learning although it may help adding the capacity for teachers to show anything they want to their children and to link to the home in ways that have not been possible in the past, and this may result in enhanced learning at this critical age, they still have to manipulate and learn from real objects.  They have to learn to work with each other, sing songs, develop coordination and creativity, and practice appropriate behaviors.

In general, the proposal was a terrific idea, expanding preschool access would really help children’s education but sure thing is it will take a lot of money and time to get in order.  This will be a great help more especially to unfortunate children and if they want to go further in this project then they should motivate immediately.

1 comment:

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