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High-quality preschool can prepare students for CCSS-aligned instruction
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2013 08:11 AM

Once the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are fully implemented, teachers and parents will understand what is expected of students in college or their careers. In addition to being clear and concise, the CCSS will also make instruction much more rigorous than many pupils may be used to.

With so much expected of today's K-12 students, the need to supply them with access to high-quality early childhood education programs is becoming more important. After all, a strong start to children's academic careers may be just what they need to successfully complete a more challenging K-12 experience.

The importance of early childhood education
While not all parents send their children to preschool before kindergarten, those who do may be providing their kids with a social and academic advantage. Parents magazine states that children who attend preschool have an opportunity to develop socialization skills, such as how to respect others and solve problems. In addition, they learn that they do not have to rely on other people to accomplish certain tasks, such as pouring their own juice.

While these social skills can help children become better students, so too can early exposure to language arts and mathematics - the two academic subjects that are at the center of the CCSS. As a result, kids who attend preschool often enter kindergarten with a better grasp on basic mathematics, as well as a more developed vocabulary.

Children must be ready for rigorous kindergarten instruction
The kindergarten classes parents attended when they were children are nothing like what their kids will encounter under the Common Core. Kindergartners will be expected to master certain skills before moving on to the first grade.

For example, children will need to know how to ask questions when they do not understand something, print upper- and lowercase letters and understand the mathematical concepts of addition and subtraction, according to the CCSS' website. Early childhood education can certainly help young learners succeed when faced with these academic challenges.

According to the Children's Health Council, preschool can help raise kids' level of school readiness. The time children spend with family can certainly help them develop important skills, but sometimes, only pre-K programs can teach pupils how to pay attention while surrounded by classmates of the same age.

The president understands the power of preschool.
One man who sees the value in early childhood education just so happens to have the power to make it more widely available - President Barack Obama. In his recent State of the Union Address, Obama proposed that states help make universal preschool that is of a high quality available to all children.

"Study after study shows that the sooner a child begins learning, the better he or she does down the road," Obama said. "But today, fewer than three in 10 4-year-olds are enrolled in a high-quality preschool program. Most middle-class parents can't afford a few hundred bucks a week for a private preschool. And for poor kids who need help the most, this lack of access to preschool education can shadow them for the rest of their lives."

Craig Ramey, a developmental psychologist at Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, is among those who support Obama's call for universal preschool. Ramey knows full well how important early childhood education is, as he founded the Abecedarian Project, a decades-long study into the effects of preschool.

"Investing in high-quality early education has dramatic and sustained payoffs not just for the children directly involved, but for society as well," Ramey said in a statement.

With all this information in mind, parents who want to see their children succeed academically and go on to lead rewarding professional careers may want to start them off on the right foot by enrolling them in preschool.