Category Archives: Preschool

You Don’t Need Preschool for Your Kids

You know how negative I am about anything having to do with preschool, daycare, or any of that.  We’re raising children here.  If you don’t want your kids around, I guess you could use preschool and daycare for that.  If you don’t want to program your life around your kids, you’ll use preschool and daycare to help you.  If you know you are a really crappy parent, you can use them too.  If you are in dire straits and don’t have another option right now (temporarily), I guess you’ll use them.  There are many reasons to use preschool and daycare, but many of them can’t and shouldn’t be supported.

A recent article I read (entitled “Why Preschool Shouldn’t Be Like School“) reported new research showed that trying to “teach” kids at younger and younger ages backfires.  Anxious parents are so eager that their child “gets ahead” that they’ve even taken to reading books to babies still in the womb.  Teachers are pressured to make kindergartens and nursery schools more like school, and even the “No Child Left Behind Act” urged more direct instruction in federally funded preschools.

But direct instruction actually limits a young child’s ability to learn.  Teaching allows kids to learn specific things, but they need more opportunities for exploration and play so they can “discover” on their own.  They need a Mommy and a Daddy to give them a stable, supportive home and lots of love.

Head Start has always been a failure.  I knew it was a failure back in the 1960s.  And now, one study shows that 75% of mothers hand their iPhones over to their kids, thinking that will make them smarter.  App makers are marketing directly to parents who are looking to help their children as young as 4 months old get a head start on learning.  If you type in “toddler” and “educational” into the App Store, you’ll find more than 800 apps specifically marketed to children under the age of 3.  One town in Maine is spending $200,000 on iPads for its entire incoming kindergarten class.  So the question is, do iPads or smartphones or toddler-marketed apps really make young kids smarter?

The bottom line?  NO.  In fact, the American Association of Pediatrics says children under the age of 2 should not be seeing anything on a screen of any kind, whether it’s an iPhone or a television set.

Parents are too often looking for that edge to make their children the smartest.  The most important thing you can do as a parent is interact with your child.  You do not need an iPad or fancy software or a preschool or a daycare to make your child learn.  They do it every day, all day, in many different ways.  Let kids just be kids.

Preschool Bad for Children

One of the main issues for the Democrats is their passion for getting children into preschools.  Democratic Presidential candidate Obama says he believes in universal preschool, and that he’d pump billions of dollars into early childhood education, promising improved academic performance.

Sadly, the past 50 years have seen a huge increase in families who put kids in pre-school:  from 16% to 70%!  In addition to being separated from parents way too early, the problem is that fourth-grade reading, science, and math scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) haven’t gone up since the early 1970′s.  Hmmm.

For decades, I’ve read the studies about Head Start.  Those studies indicate an immediate gain on IQ tests and other cognitive measures, but show that in later years, those scores become indistinguishable from non-Head Start kids.

Why the heck is there such determination to take small children away from their homes and mothers, and put them in an institutionalized setting, which does not add to their lives, but actually subtracts from them?  A 2005 study from Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley (neither of which is known as a conservative institution) found that kindergartners with 15 or more hours of preschool every week were less motivated and more aggressive in class than other kids.

In Canada, the C.D. Howe Institute found a higher incidence of anxiety, hyperactivity, and poor social skills among kids in Quebec after the introduction of universal preschool. 

As you might imagine, the only preschool programs that seem to do more good than harm are targeted at children who come from extremely poor families (often those with neglectful and/or addicted parents).  Even so, the return (adult crime, earnings, wealth and welfare dependence) were much smaller (16 cents for every dollar spent) than Obama’s notion of a $10 return.  Universal preschool programs in Oklahoma, Georgia and Tennessee (2006, Education Week  analysis) find no statistical difference in the performance of preschool and non-preschool students on any subject after the first grade.

Enough with the government intruding on parents’ abilities to make educational choices for their children by guilt or mandate, without any substantiation that there is a positive benefit.  Common sense should tell you that small children are best served by a loving mommy.

The reality is that the overwhelming majority of children come from loving homes with attentive parents.  Tearing children away from their homes and families for government-run, institutionalized learning programs that demonstrate absolutely no concrete benefit to the children is somewhere between sinister and cruel.

By the way, Obama’s daughters go to a private school whose annual fee in middle school runs around $20,000.