Two Years of Preschool Will Make You Broke, But Kids Smarter

Is it just me or did Kindergarten get a lot more stressful since when I was little? I remember eating a little paste, wearing a dress, doing a little painting and calling it a day. Now researchers are saying that children need at least two years in preschool just to prepare for the academic rigors of kindergarten.

As a mom who chose to go back to work after staying home for two years with my kids, it was not an easy choice, but we made the leap. Both my kids will have had three years each of preschool by the time they go to real school. So I say bring this study on!

Child development researchers from Michigan State University followed three and four-year-old kids and assessed their skill levels in the areas of self-regulation, vocabulary, and letter knowledge and published their findings in Early Childhood Research Quarterly.


Currently, said the researchers, only 57 percent of three to five year olds attend preschool. Certainly for many parents, the costs of quality programs make it impossible to do two full years. I live in an area where many parents I know are working just to pay the tuition and leaving almost nothing for themselves.

On the plus side, it will make paying for private college seem simple! So, for me, seeing this study made me happy. Both my children started preschool very early, my daughter was 2 years and eight months and my son was two and one month. Both have thrived. But it is a decision I question every day when I see my salary to tuition ratio.

I feel a little better now.

In terms of kindergarten preparation, I believe preschool does a very good job in certain areas in promoting children’s skill sets, said Lori Skibbe, MSU assistant professor of child development. But it might do a better job if there was also explicit attention directed at building children’s self-regulation and vocabulary skills.

So much for play. Attending preschool was associated with gains in literacy skills – specifically, learning the letters of the alphabet and comprehending how they go together to form words and the results are cumulative. Children who spent two years in preschool, for example, did better in literacy.

Of course, some parents cannot afford two years of private preschool and have to rely on public programs that are usually only one year. This is really all more fodder for the reality that we need universal, quality preschool that is open to all children for two years of toddler hood.

How many years of preschool did your children do?


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