Sometimes, our society gets caught up in the idea that achievement is a giant scholarly test-acing gold medal gold star. To that end, there’s a big race to nowhere (a film I highly recommend seeing) and a sense that “best” is defined by Ivy Leagues and the goods that supposedly follow thereafter, even though there is a long list of reasons why this is not the case any longer, if it ever even was.
In my circles—and maybe yours—which is to say well-educated people in families where both parents work at least part-time — most kids attend preschool. Where I live there is limited access to public preschool, so it’s often a costly endeavor. Yet, it’s the rule not the exception for kids to go. At the time my eldest was starting elementary school, his teacher said she hadn’t had a kid start kindergarten without some preschool in nearly a decade. Even lots of home-schoolers I know connected with some preschool before that decision. And many preschoolers I know do engage in organized activities that don’t necessarily mimic preschool, but do seek to fulfill some similar goals.
President Obama weighed in on the side of universal access to preschool.
What can preschool offer? I really loved this post about the value of “rigor” in preschool—not ABC’s or reading, but the ‘whole child’ approach to kindergarten readiness. The writer states:
“With young children, a ‘rigorous’ curriculum means a whole lot of learning going on while having a whole lot of fun.”
How happy it made me to read this on the same day an email came from my preschooler’s teachers to describe their morning with Eric Carle’s book I See a Song—and how they used the notion that music isn’t just to be heard, but could be seen. The teachers put on some jazz and the children painted while the music played.
The magic of learning really isn’t about equations or vocabulary; it’s about joy in discovery. That spark makes us good learners, sharp and creative thinkers and ultimately successful people able to live productive, satisfying lives. With every gut of a school department budget, the belief in children’s wholeness as the route to their best learning slips a little further out of reach. Thus, support for universal access to preschool, i.e., laying the groundwork for whole child-centric education, is a fundamental goal for this President’s term.