We Must Not Deny Our Children Their Childhood

Amidst the college admissions scandal, Neale Godfrey at Kiplinger asked this question, "Are you at risk of being a 'payoff' parent?" We want our children to succeed. And in wanting, we look for ways to give our children a leg up. Even in soccer, we send our children to "travel" teams. We are not satisfied with recreational teams. We always want the best for our children so that they will be ahead of their peers. As Godfrey points out, we may be "helicopter" or "lawn mower" parents right now, but in the end, we actually risk becoming "payoff" parents. There is, however, one more important risk that we take when we try to make our children better than others, we may be denying them their childhood.

Above copied from Kiplinger

Preschool is important to prepare children for basic education. Kindergarten, after all, has become so demanding both academically and socio-emotionally. So it has become clear that for students to thrive in their primary years, they must go to preschool. Some politicians are already beginning to promise universal preschool. The type of preschool, however, still matters. Recent research shows that there is a dramatic difference, for instance, between half-day and full-day preschool. In an article published in the journal Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, researchers at Colorado and Virginia find that children who received full day preschool score higher in vocabulary skills, cognition, literacy, math, physical, and socio-emotional development. Although one can easily jump to assuming full day kindergarten is simply twice as much reading and math, the additional hours are actually geared toward playing, resting, eating and socializing.

Above copied from
Atteberry, A., Bassok, D., & Wong, V. C. (2019). The Effects of Full-Day Prekindergarten: Experimental Evidence of Impacts on Children’s School Readiness. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis41(4), 537–562. https://doi.org/10.3102/0162373719872197

Of course, the above study was not designed to extract specifically which part of the full-day program contributes to the additional benefits so I am actually just guessing that it is the additional time in structured and unstructured play, music, art, drama, dance, napping, resting, and eating that does the trick. In fact, as noted by the authors, the effect may just be indirect as a full day preschool allows parents of children to work full-time and make more money which leads to possibly a less stressful household. We do not, however, need to see clear evidence of cause and effect because in this case, we simply need to remember that these are children and like any child, there are only a few years of childhood. There are plenty of years to study algebra and calculus, but there are only a few to play like a child.