Bucks Courier Times: Editorial: Helping Our Kids Through Pre-K Education

Much of what is written in this space every day can be debated. But there is no debate when it comes to the importance of educating our children. These days, the lack of a good education is not just a ticket to the limited future; too often, it is a one-way ticket to nowhere.

In addition, certain research shows that the earlier a child’s formal education begins, the greater the chances that child will develop a solid foundation for all the learning that follows. We’re not talking kindergarten but pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds.

There is conflicting research that shows the benefits of this early learning are limited and have little long-term effect.

Notwithstanding that latter research, this much is intuitive: An early start is beneficial in virtually every endeavor. Thus, we recognize that pre-K education can give kids a grounding in basic literacy, language, math and particularly social/emotional skills. However, such education remains out of reach financially for almost 70 percent of Pennsylvanians. The statistics aren’t much better in Bucks and Montgomery counties. And when you talk about high-quality pre-K education that’s publicly funded, access is limited to just 8 percent of children in Bucks and 6 percent in Montco.

These are numbers from Pre-K for PA, a campaign that aims to make pre-K education not mandatory but universally available to all of the nearly 300,000 children ages 3 and 4 in Pennsylvania. And not just any pre-K education but high-quality pre-K that exposes the children to specially certified teachers and programs designed to maximize every child’s potential.

The home environment remains the chief fountain of early learning, and no type of institutionalized program can substitute for a nurturing home environment. That said, children taught only in the home can enter school lacking the ability to socialize and interact well with other children. Most children, we think, eventually will “catch up.” But social skills are an important component of child development, and teaching them is one of the stronger arguments for pre-K education.

Read the full editorial here.