Magazine article Science News

Promising Effects of Intensive Preschool

Magazine article Science News

Promising Effects of Intensive Preschool

Article excerpt

Disadvantaged children who, along with their parents, take part in an intensive preschool program, reap substantially more academic benefits than peers who attend a less comprehensive preschool, say Joan E. Sprigle and Lyn Schaefer of Florida State University in Tallahassee. Their data support a long-term study by the High Scope Educational Research Foundation in Ypsilanti, Mich.; it found that high-quality preschool education can help poor children to lead significantly more successful lives by the time they reach 19 years old (SN: 9/22/84, p.185).

"The two studies indicate that when you have dedicated, qualified teachers and parent involvement, disadvantaged kids will benefit from preschool education," says Sprigle.

The researchers followed 90 black children from the same poor neighborhood in Jacksonville, Fla., who entered one of two preschool programs in 1968. An experimental program was designed to teach problem-solving strategies in small groups and allow for play periods in a large classroom. Teachers met with parents once a month to plan ways to help children learn at home. A comparison program involved large classroom instruction and virtually no home instruction by parents.

All 4- and 5-year-olds attended preschool through kindergarten. The intensive prorgam operated separately from the public schools through the first grade; children in the comparison group attended first grade in a public school but received additional classes.

When school records were later examined for the same children in the fourth and fifth grade, the investigators found that the experimental group had significantly higher grades in reading and mathematics. …

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