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Study Gives Preschool Education High Marks

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September 10, 2008

East Lansing, MI - A report card is out on the value of preschool education, in the form of a new study by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice. It addresses some long-standing questions about the impact of preschool on kids in Minnesota and elsewhere.

Study author Steve Barnett with the National Institute for Early Education Research says preschool can make a lasting difference, as long as it's high quality.

"Good preschool education can produce lasting benefits for your child in terms of social and emotional development, cognitive development, and school success."

Barnett believes investments in early education should be targeted at programs that get the best results.

He says that while all kids benefit from quality preschool, those who get the biggest boost come from low-to-middle-income families. However, those families may not be able to afford the best preschools.

"It does matter what the quality of the program is. Proposals for public funds to help parents afford quality programs turn out to be so important."

He says preschool programs should regularly evaluate children's learning and development to check on their progress, and the teachers should be closely supervised and receive ongoing training.

Barnett says parents should look for small class sizes and positive relationships in a preschool environment.

"Are the relationships that my child will have here with other kids, and with the teachers, good? Is this an experience that is good for my child educationally?"

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

Jim Wishner/Steve Powers, Public News Service - MN