We have a wonderful opportunity and a serious obligation. We have an opportunity to start the learning process early with our children so that they can be more successful and we have an obligation to ensure that all children have access to this opportunity, regardless of their situation.
Our company mission, “to empower every child with knowledge, skills, character, and work ethic to achieve the American Dream”, encourages us to start our important work early with the little ones because they are “wired” and ready to learn the core values needed to achieve the Dream. The early infusion of young children into a caring and supportive school family will allow them to become responsible, obtain a sense of community, and develop characteristics of honor, integrity, and trust. In short, it gives us educators the opportunity to help them create an early, positive vision for themselves.
You probably already know that babies are “wired” ready to learn as soon as they are born – they are ready for this opportunity. Children have more neurons when they are four years old than when they become 35-year-old adults. They have neurons whose synapses are practically begging to be connected! This information should give us the inertia we need to propel early learning in ALL of our schools and communities.
We believe in the importance of early childhood education that is intentional, based on a strong curriculum and strong standards, and delivered by highly qualified and committed professionals. We encourage all of our School Boards and school communities to explore creating a pre-school program, tuition-based or state funded, so that the learning of these values can begin early and so that the children can be better prepared for kindergarten. Simple daycare will not prepare children for kindergarten!
We rely on our School Boards and school communities to decide and direct the type of early learning program that would best fit their school community. In some areas, tuition-based programs are best. In other regions, a state-funded and more prescriptive program is needed. Tuition-based programs rely on the ability of the parents to fund that program. With their funding, the program is bound only to the State Early Childhood Standards of Quality for Prekindergarten, Child Care Licensing Rules, and their curriculum. State grant-funded programs, such as the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP), are more detailed in their requirements of the program in terms of curriculum, developmental screening, daily routine, school calendar, staffing, etc., and it also abides by the State Standards and Licensing Rules. GSRP provides an opportunity for early childhood education for parents who can’t afford tuition programs.
Some people wonder if this “preschool stuff” works. Well, consider this information:
The Rand Corporation conducted a research study many years ago showing that for every $1 spent on early childhood education for a child, saved a community $17 in later expenses for juvenile justice, prisons, and community mental health. The Michigan Department of Education further reports that the state is now saving $1.15 billion annually because students who received preschool require less academic and social help as they get older.
The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) conducted a cohort study of children, from preschool to high school, and found that GSRP pre-school students scored significantly higher on early literacy and math. MDE also found that children had a higher rate of on-time high school graduation if they had participated in the Great Start Readiness Program preschool. Other research shows that GSRP preschool students enter kindergarten with more imagination and creativity, demonstrate more initiative, retain learning, and show better attendance. I’m confident the same can be said for children who attend an intentional, curriculum and standards-based, tuition preschool.
So, if preschool age children are “wired and ready to learn,” we save up to $17 for every $1 spent on Early Childhood Programs, preschool education helps children to become more ready for kindergarten, and have a better chance of finishing high school, why isn’t the world rushing to implement more intentional early childhood programs, tuition or State funded, so that ALL children have this opportunity?
Choice Schools Associates, MIChoice, and our Second Home Child Development Centers, are doing just that so ALL of our children can create their own vision and achieve the American Dream. Will you join us?