TOPEKA (KSNT) – New research shows that preschool could be the most important time for a child. However, it’s something a majority of Kansas children don’t attend.
“Early education, a big part of it has to do with readiness to learn.” Says Marcus Baltzell of KNEA.
But a new report shows a majority of Kansas kids aren’t ready to learn by the time they reach kindergarten.
The reason? Low enrollment numbers for early education programs such as preschool.
“Having kids come in with an established foundation in what it means to start to learn to read, and to learn mathematic steps, and even just things like fine motor skills.” Said Baltzell
“All of those things impact the learning environment for everybody.”
However, nearly two thirds of Kansas 4 year-olds are not enrolled in any sort of pre-kindergarten program.
Often that lack of early education is due to a lack of resources.
“There’s really a lack of available slots for children in these programs because of the funding issues.” Said Kansas Action for Children’s Lauren Beatty.
“For example, in Shawnee County there’s only three early head start slots available for every 100 children.”
Meaning some parents like Brett Fry have to change school districts to get the beginning education their child needs.
“At home they learn a little bit but to go to preschool and get that learning block. They learn to count, they learn their colors. I believe that’s a big step before just throwing them into first grade of kindergarten.”
Some advocates are pushing for more state funding for early education programs, reiterating that investments in early childhood education have long term pay-offs.
“If a child has a good foundation, and a good early childhood program, that leads to that readiness to learn that can help them be successful throughout their educational career.” Said Baltzell
The study released by the U.S. Department of education says that access to preschool benefits society by almost $9 for every $1 spent.