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New York City pre-kindergarten programs prepare kids for school and life
MONDAY, MARCH 10, 2014 11:07 AM

New York City preschool educators will have a lot of work cut out for them in the next few years if Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo get enough traction behind their education initiatives. Both men continue to place focus on early childhood education, with de Blasio spearheading a highly publicized campaign for full-day universal pre-kindergarten services. However, while de Blasio wants to levy a tax on high income residents to pay for these new programs, Cuomo believes that state funds should front the bill.

Improving early education standards
As parents and educators become more aware of the challenges the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) present, they see the importance of starting their kids' education early. Topics covered in the first and second grade can be found in some pre-K programs, and parents want their children to be prepared for the future wave of accelerated curricula. In some ways, these early programs develop in children skills aligned with the Common Core. According to New York City Superintendent Raymond Ciccarelli, public school children are showing plenty signs of growth.

"We're finding that they're being much more successful as they're getting into the primary elementary grades," Ciccarelli told the Post-Star. "Certainly, their reading comprehension has improved."

In the classroom of Tammy Soper, a New York City pre-K educator, children take turns at different learning stations that help them develop literacy skills. Soper set up her classroom to include what she calls Circle Time (where she and her students cover letters and numbers), a table where students look at pictures and identify relationships with letters, and different tables that practice word associations and other essential reading skills. All of these activities are designed to be fun, keep the attention of curious 4-year-olds and are common in early education programs. 

Importance of early childhood development
The activities that Soper and many other pre-K teachers use in their classrooms play an important role in childhood development, and can arguably be the difference between poor achievement and success in students' future academic experiences. According to Anne Fernald, an associate professor of psychology at Stanford University, a crucial growth period occurs in children between birth and 5 years of age. Her study focused on the achievement gaps between children who live in poor and middle-class households. Fernald believes that exposure to many different types of words in a child's early years will increase the rate at which they process new ones as they grow older. By fighting for pre-K programs in New York City, public officials like Mayor de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo continue to show their support for the ideals of the Common Core. 




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