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A pre-kindergarten playground

Pre-kindergarten (also called Pre-K or PK) is a classroom-based preschool program for children below the age of five in the United States, Canada and Turkey (when kindergarten starts). [1] [2] It may be delivered through a preschool or within a reception year in elementary school. Pre-kindergartens play an important role in early childhood education. They have existed in the US since 1922, normally run by private organizations. The U.S. Head Start program, the country's first federally funded pre-kindergarten program, was founded in 1967. This attempts to prepare children (especially disadvantaged children) to succeed in school. [3]

Classroom room inside school building where lessons are held

A classroom is a learning space, a room in which both children and adults learn. Classrooms are found in educational institutions of all kinds, from preschools to universities, and may also be found in other places where education or training is provided, such as corporations and religious and humanitarian organizations. The classroom provides a space where learning can take place uninterrupted by outside distractions.

Preschool educational establishment offering early childhood education to children

A preschool, also known as nursery school, pre-primary school, playschool or kindergarten, is an educational establishment or learning space offering early childhood education to children before they begin compulsory education at primary school. It may be publicly or privately operated, and may be subsidised from public funds.

Kindergarten preschool educational approach traditionally based on playing

Kindergarten is a preschool educational approach based on playing, singing, practical activities such as drawing, and social interaction as part of the transition from home to school. Such institutions were originally created in the late 18th century in Bavaria and Strasbourg to serve children whose parents both worked outside home. The term was coined by the German Friedrich Fröbel, whose approach globally influenced early-years education. Today, the term is used in many countries to describe a variety of educational institutions and learning spaces for children ranging from two to seven years of age, based on a variety of teaching methods.



The term "pre-kindergarten" is often used interchangeably[ dubious ] with the concepts of "nursery care" and "child care"; however, these other early childhood settings focus their goal on substitutionary care for children while their legal parents or guardians are absent, as opposed to pre-K's focus on skill building. They could involve academic training, or they could involve solely socializing activities.

Child care, otherwise known as day care, is the care and supervision of a child or multiple children at a time, whose ages range from six weeks to thirteen years. Child care is the action or skill of looking after children by a day-care center, nannies, babysitter, teachers or other providers. Child care is a broad topic that covers a wide spectrum of professionals, institutions, contexts, activities, and social and cultural conventions. Early child care is an equally important and often overlooked component of child development. Child care providers can be children's first teachers, and therefore play an integral role in systems of early childhood education. Quality care from a young age can have a substantial impact on the future successes of children. The main focus of childcare is on the development of the child, whether that be mental, social, or psychological.

Socialization lifelong process of inheriting and disseminating norms, customs and ideologies

In sociology, socialization is the process of internalizing the norms and ideologies of society. Socialization encompasses both learning and teaching and is thus "the means by which social and cultural continuity are attained".

Pre-kindergartens differentiate themselves from other child care by equally focusing on building a child's social development, physical development, emotional development, and cognitive development.[ citation needed ] They commonly follow a set of organization-created teaching standards in shaping curriculum and instructional activities and goals. The term "preschool" more accurately approximates the name "pre-kindergarten", for both focus on harvesting the same four child development areas in subject-directed fashion. The term "preschool" often refers to such schools that are owned and operated as private or parochial schools. Pre-kindergartens refer to such school classrooms that function within a public school under the supervision of a public school administrator and funded completely by state or federally allocated funds, and private donations.

Emotion is a mental state associated with the nervous system brought on by chemical changes variously associated with thoughts, feelings, behavioural responses, and a degree of pleasure or displeasure. There is currently no scientific consensus on a definition. Emotion is often intertwined with mood, temperament, personality, disposition, and motivation.

A parochial school is a private primary or secondary school affiliated with a religious organization, and whose curriculum includes general religious education in addition to secular subjects, such as science, mathematics and language arts. The word "parochial" comes from the same root as "parish", and parochial schools were originally the educational wing of the local parish church. Christian parochial schools are often called "church schools" or "Christian schools". In Ontario, parochial schools are called "separate schools".

Most school districts describe Pre-Kindergarten as "an early learning program to prepare children for kindergarten who are identified as at risk".[ This quote needs a citation ] Pre-kindergarten provides learning to children who are 4 years old on or before September 1. Preschool provides learning to children who are 3 years olds on or before September 1. Most programs are 3 hours but extended day is offered in some schools.

"K-2" is often (and controversially) used interchangeably with "pre-kindergarten". Although early childhood education experts criticize the use of the term as a way to rationalize utilizing a kindergarten model and teaching kindergarten skills in pre-kindergarten classes, public school districts continue to incorporate the term as a way to integrate pre-kindergarten into the stable of accountability under the No Child Left Behind Act.

Early childhood education is a branch of education theory which relates to the teaching of children from birth up to the age of eight which is traditionally about third grade. It emerged as a field of study during the Enlightenment, particularly in European countries with high literacy rates. It continued to grow through the nineteenth century as universal primary education became a norm in the Western world. In recent years, early childhood education has become a prevalent public policy issue, as municipal, state, and federal lawmakers consider funding for preschool and pre-K. It is described as an important period in a child's development. It refers to the development of a child's personality. ECE is also a professional designation earned through a post-secondary education program. For example, in Ontario, Canada, the designations ECE and RECE may only be used by registered members of the College of Early Childhood Educators, which is made up of accredited child care professionals who are held accountable to the College's standards of practice.

In ethics and governance, accountability is answerability, blameworthiness, liability, and the expectation of account-giving. As an aspect of governance, it has been central to discussions related to problems in the public sector, nonprofit and private (corporate) and individual contexts. In leadership roles, accountability is the acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for actions, products, decisions, and policies including the administration, governance, and implementation within the scope of the role or employment position and encompassing the obligation to report, explain and be answerable for resulting consequences.

No Child Left Behind Act former United States Law

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) was a U.S. Act of Congress that reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act; it included Title I provisions applying to disadvantaged students. It supported standards-based education reform based on the premise that setting high standards and establishing measurable goals could improve individual outcomes in education. The Act required states to develop assessments in basic skills. To receive federal school funding, states had to give these assessments to all students at select grade levels.


In 2013, Alabama, Michigan, Minnesota, and the city of San Antonio, Texas, enacted or expanded Pre-K programs. In New York City, mayor Bill de Blasio was elected on a pledge of Pre-K for all city children. A poll conducted in July for an early education nonprofit advocate found that 60 percent of registered Republicans and 84 percent of Democrats supported expanding public preschool by raising the federal tobacco tax. [4]

Education in Alabama consists of public and private schools in Alabama, including the University of Alabama, private colleges, and secondary and primary schools.

Education in the US State of Minnesota comes from a number of public and private sources and encompasses pre-Kindergarten to post-secondary levels. Minnesota has a literate and well-educated population; the state ranked 13th on the 2006–07 Morgan Quitno Smartest State Award, and is first in the percentage of residents with at least a high school diploma. But while more than 90% of high school seniors graduated in 2006, about 6% of white, 28% of African American, 30% of Asian American and more than 34% of Hispanic and Native American students dropped out of school. In 2007 Minnesota students earned the highest average score in the nation on the ACT exam. While Minnesota has chosen not to implement school vouchers, it is home to the first charter school, the City Academy High School of Saint Paul.

Bill de Blasio American politician and mayor of New York City

Bill de Blasio is an American politician who is serving as the 109th Mayor of New York City. Prior to his first election to the position of Mayor, he served as New York City's public advocate from 2010 to 2013.

Funding for Pre-K has proven a substantial obstacle for creating and expanding programs. The issue produced multiple approaches. Several governors and mayors targeted existing budgets. San Antonio increased sales taxes, while Virginia and Maine look to gambling. In Oregon, currently 20% of kids have access to publicly funded Pre-K of any kind, and a 2016 campaign is working to fully fund Pre-K to 12 education, for all kids whose parents want them to have the option of Pre-K. [4] [5]

A 2012 review by the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University identified Oklahoma, Georgia and West Virginia as among the leaders in public program quality and fraction of enrolled children. Florida had the highest enrollment in 2012 — almost four-fifths of all four-year-olds. About 84 percent were in private, religion-based or family centers. That state's preschool programs did not fare well on quality measures. Other states with more than 50 percent enrollment included Wisconsin, Iowa, Texas and Vermont. [4]

Florida was one of the first states to establish free prekindergarten. The programs offer a jump start to young children on their education. The program is open to all 4 and 5-year-olds who reside in Florida and have birthdays before September 1st of the current school year. Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) gives each child an opportunity to perform better in school and in the future. A strong emphasis is put on literacy skills, accountability, and smaller class sizes. These high-quality programs aid children in becoming strong readers and improving social and developmental skills. [6]

There are several different programs for parents to choose from. They differentiate in class size, instructional hours, and teacher credentials. Florida VPK programs also offer specialized instruction for children with special needs. [6] Benefits of the VPK program include better behavior, preparation for Kindergarten, and a promoted love of learning for children. The skills children learn at home are enhanced by Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten. [7]


A 2018 study in the Journal of Public Economics found in Italy that pre-kindergarten "increased mothers' participation in the labor market and lowered the reservation wage of the unemployed, thus increasing their likelihood of finding a job" but "did not affect children's cognitive development, irrespective of their family background." [8]

Pre-Kindergarten gives each child an opportunity to perform better in school and in the future. A strong emphasis is put on literacy skills, accountability, and smaller class sizes. These programs aid children in becoming strong readers and improving social and developmental skills.

There are several different programs for parents to choose from. They differentiate in class size, instructional hours, and teacher credentials. Select programs also offer specialized instruction for children with special needs. Benefits of the VPK program include better behavior, preparation for Kindergarten, and a promoted love of learning for children. The skills children learn at home are enhanced by placement in Pre-Kindergarten.

Children of immigrants

The US Census Bureau forecast that the foreign-born population in the United States would make up 19% of the US population by 2060 (up from 13% in 2014). [9] Children of immigrant families face special challenges.

Cultural values and childcare options

Children of immigrants represent the fastest growing US population. Asians and Latinos are the two largest racial groups. Like all families, immigrants have choices when pursuing childcare options. Cultural differences influence childcare choices, such as attitudes towards early academic development. These differences help explain differences in childcare selection. Compared to Latino immigrant groups, Asians are more likely than Latinos to enroll their children in pre-kindergarten programs due to the inclusion of academics. [10] The focus of pre-academic, school readiness is important to Asian parents. Latino immigrant parents by contrast generally opt for more informal childcare options, such as parental, relative or non-relative in-home care. [11] This is due in part to the opinion that academic skills are taught through formal instruction after children enter primary school. [12] While Latino families value the acquisition of academic skills, the in-home childcare choice is a reflection of the importance of cultural and linguistic values and traditional family dynamics. Parents with limited English proficiency are more likely to choose parental or in-home care instead of pre-kindergarten programs. [10]


According to information from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), low-income immigrant families are less likely to use center-based childcare, such as pre-kindergarten, than children of non-immigrants. [13] While some Latino families prefer in-home childcare, many report wanting to enroll their children in a pre-kindergarten program. Interviews with immigrant mothers revealed common motivations for seeking pre-kindergarten placements for their children, including maternal employment, opportunity to learn English and social and emotional development. [14] Obstacles immigrant mothers reported facing included high cost, long wait-lists, a need to provide documentation (especially for illegal aliens and those who lacked English-language proficiency) and a lack of information regarding eligibility for subsidized programs. On average, immigrants tend to experience higher poverty rates due to low wages, less education and a lack of English proficiency.


While all children would benefit from pre-kindergarten and early childhood education, immigrant children, particularly those from lower socio-economic households, stand to benefit the most. Studies indicate that first and second generation immigrants lag behind children of non-immigrant families in cognitive and language skills. [15] Pre-K's focus on cognitive, social, emotional and physical development would address these skills and reduce the inequalities in school readiness between children from immigrant and non-immigrant families. Educators must be sensitive to sensitivities of immigrant groups regarding the acquisition of the English language versus their native-language. Pre-K could help children build either or both skills. For most US students, English fluency is essential. [16]

See also

Related Research Articles

Head Start (program) U.S. federal aid program for low-income childcare

Head Start is a program of the United States Department of Health and Human Services that provides comprehensive early childhood education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income children and their families. The program's services and resources are designed to foster stable family relationships, enhance children's physical and emotional well-being, and establish an environment to develop strong cognitive skills. The transition from preschool to elementary school imposes diverse developmental challenges that include requiring the children to engage successfully with their peers outside the family network, adjust to the space of a classroom, and meet the expectations the school setting provides.

The Early Childhood Education Act is the name of various landmark laws passed by the United States Congress outlining federal programs and funding for childhood education from pre-school through kindergarten. The first such act was introduced in the United States House of Representatives by Congresswoman Patsy Mink of Hawaiʻi in the 1960s. The theory behind the act is that the years before a child reaches kindergarten are the most critical to influence learning. Many children do not have access to early education before entering kindergarten. The goal of the act is to provide a comprehensive set of services for children from birth until they enter kindergarten.

Project STAR was three-year, federally funded research project which consisted of an intervention with preschoolers enrolled in the Head Start program in Lane County, Oregon, United States. The project was conducted from 1999 to 2003 by the Early Childhood Research Unit of the University of Oregon College of Education. The principal investigators were Dr. Ruth Kaminski, one of the co-authors of the DIBELS early literacy assessment, and Beth Stormshak. The goal of the program was to increase literacy skills of at-risk children by improving their learning environments by increasing the number of planned and focused activities. The curriculum had two components: a classroom ecology component and family-focused intervention activities. The intervention was focused on strengthening children's skills in social ability. In order to help children they increased parenting and family participation in school by working directly with the parents of the students.

A preschool teacher is a type of early childhood educator who instructs children from 2 to age 4, which stands as the youngest stretch of early childhood education. Early Childhood Education teachers need to span the continuum of children from birth to age 8.

Universal preschool is an international movement to use public funding to ensure high quality preschool (pre-k) is available to all families.

Ready schools are schools that seek to meet the unique needs of the students and families they serve. The concept of ready schools is part of the larger school readiness movement, which seeks to better prepare children for school and schools for children.

Children's Institute Inc. (CII) is a nonprofit organization that provides services to children and families healing from the effects of family and community violence within Los Angeles's most challenged neighborhoods. Founded in 1906 by Minnie Barton, Los Angeles's first female probation officer, the organization was first designed to help troubled young women who found themselves adrift in Los Angeles." The organization has since expanded its services to at-risk youth in Los Angeles who are affected by child abuse, neglect domestic and gang violence as well as poverty. CII is a multi-service organization that combines evidence-based clinical services, youth development programs and family support services designed to address the whole child and entire family. The organization provides various forms of trauma support—including therapy, intervention services, parenting workshops, early childcare programs and other support services offered in English, Spanish and Korean.

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), sometimes referred to as the Massachusetts Department of Education, is the state education agency for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, identified by the U.S. Department of Education. It is responsible for public education at the elementary and secondary levels. The agency has its headquarters in Malden. It is governed by the Massachusetts Board of Education.

Goddard School Early childhood education franchise

The Goddard School is an early childhood education provider with more than 400 franchised Schools in 35 states and hundreds of markets, including the Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia and Portland markets. Goddard Systems, Inc. (GSI) franchises The Goddard School from its headquarters in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.

Susan Neuman is an educator, researcher, and education policy-maker in early childhood and literacy development. In 2013, she became Professor of Early Childhood and Literacy Education, and Chair of the Department of Teaching and Learning at NYU's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

Bright from the Start, also known as Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, was established on July 1, 2004. The main office is located in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. The department licenses and monitors daycare centers and all state funded pre-k. Bright from the Start is headed by one commissioner and by a board of administrators. Bright from the Start provides children with quality preschool knowledge that will be necessary for their future school achievements. They want to offer a system of professional development for the providers and for the staff.

Kids Community College

Kid's Community College, also referred to as KCC, is a public charter school and private preschool based in Riverview, Florida. Established in 2003 by Timothy B. Kilpatrick, Sr., Kid's Community College provides educational services and care for children six weeks of age through grade 12.

Curricula in early childhood care and education (ECCE) address the role and importance of curricula in the education of young children, and is the driving force behind any ECCE programme. It is ‘an integral part of the engine that, together with the energy and motivation of staff, provides the momentum that makes programmes live’. It follows therefore that the quality of a programme is greatly influenced by the quality of its curriculum. In early childhood, these may be programmes for children or parents, including health and nutrition interventions and prenatal programmes, as well as centre-based programmes for children.

Kindergarten readiness

Kindergarten readiness refers to the developmental domains that contribute to children's ability to adapt to the kindergarten classroom, which is often a new and unfamiliar environment. There is no single agreed upon definition of Kindergarten readiness. The domains often included in the definition include, academic skills, social-emotional development, and physical development. In addition to these competencies, the child's environment and opportunities for learning should also be considered. This includes the child's home environment and their interactions with teachers and peers.

Adam Winsler is a developmental psychologist known for his research on early child development, private speech, and benefits of arts education. Winsler is Professor of Applied Developmental Psychology at George Mason University.

A pre-school, also known as kindergarten or child care centres in Singapore, is an educational establishment or learning space offering early childhood education to children before they begin compulsory education at primary school. It may be publicly or privately operated, and may be subsidized from public funds such as The Baby Bonus Fund.


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