It’s not easy to figure out what is really going on in a pre-school classroom. It might look like children are simply sitting on the floor, playing, cooking or running around in circles, the way toddlers will sometimes do. This may be one reason why so few journalists bother to venture into early childhood classrooms. And that’s too bad, because it can be richly rewarding. EarlyStories was reminded of this while reading Linda Borg’s story in The Providence Journal this week.
Borg visited a program known as Ready to Learn, an early childhood initiative in four cities that is part of an experiment to see if what kind of edge pre-kindergarten classrooms provide once students begin their usual academic careers. They are learning “the skills they need to succeed in kindergarten, learning how to listen, to sit still and to take turns. They are also learning the prerequisites of reading: how to hold a book, read from left to right and connect letters with specific sounds,” the story notes.
What would happen if children across the U.S. had a similar opportunity? And how can you compare those who have attended such programs with those who have not? In this case, children were chosen by lottery, and the gains they make will be measured by the National Institute for Early Education Research. The findings will be available later this summer, and it will be exciting to see what they reveal — and how they influence the availability of high quality early childhoood programs.