Preschool Program Preps Kids for Academic Success
Penn State: A program that helps low-income parents prepare their children for school has benefits that extend beyond kindergarten and into into third grade, according to Penn State researchers.
The researchers found that the preschoolers of parents who participated in the program performed better academically, acquired better social emotional skills and needed fewer additional school services when they were in third grade.
Karen Bierman, Evan Pugh Professor of Psychology, said that because the transition from preschool to kindergarten is such an important period of development for children, she and the other researchers wanted to help parents -- especially those of limited resources -- set their kids up for success.
"Many of these families don't have the financial resources to seek out enrichment learning opportunities for their children the way people with more income might," Bierman said. "Many also lack access to optimal child care or preschools. This program can empower them and give them things they can do in their own home. It decreases some of that resource gap."
The study also found that in additional to academic and social benefits for the child, parents who went through the program reported fewer problems with their child's behavior and also less stressful parenting.
"Essentially, our storybooks and conversation games give parents an easy way to get their children talking with them about their feelings and their social experiences," Bierman said. "These conversations show the children that their parents are someone they can talk to about feelings and problems."
Bierman added that they try to emphasize how valuable it is to build up the parent-child relationship as a source of social support as children enter school, as well as a source of interesting activities and conversation.
"When children are used to talking with their parents about their feelings, they are able to use their parents to help them manage the everyday challenges they experience as they adjust to school," Bierman said.
Bierman said that in the future, the researchers will explore whether technology can be used to replace some of the face-to-face time with parents, making the program potentially more affordable for school districts to implement. The researchers will also continue to follow the children who participated in the program to see if they continue to experience benefits.
(Indebted to various sources)