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Report: Preschool Benefits Reach Beyond Grades for MI

September 10, 2008

East Lansing, MI – Preschool really does give kids an edge in learning and development, according to a report released by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice. The study also finds the benefits are long-lasting and translate into higher test scores and fewer children held back a grade.

National Institute for Early Education Research Research director Steve Barnett at Rutgers wrote the report and has tips for scoping out a high-quality preschool.

"Preschools should have lots of stimulating activities for your child as well as teachers who have the education and training to know how to best interact with a three or four year old."

Barnett says the benefits are the best for children from low-to-middle income families, and those are the families least likely to be able to afford high quality programs. He suggests public funding to make preschool more available. Preschool has become a topic on the presidential campaign trail, with Senator John McCain backing databases for parents, and Senator Barack Obama supporting public money for voluntary preschool.

Barnett also reviewed research that has been publicized about a connection between childcare and aggressive behavior in children. He says there's no solid connection because those studies have never investigated if aggressive behavior existed before preschool, or if there is a connection with the home environment.

"That's something that's been out there in the media scaring parents, and we've come to the conclusion that it's really not true."

The full report is online at www.greatlakescenter.org.

Deborah Smith/Steve Powers, Public News Service - MI