Mother’s Day: Why this Mom wants pre-k for PA

By Jen Bradley, Philly Parenting
Special to Pre-K for PA’s Focus on Mother’s Day: #MOMS4PREK

Long before I became a mom, I was a teacher. I taught preschool-aged children in Baltimore City. I remember the hearing daunting statistics that loomed over the children I taught each day. My colleagues and I were determined to help prevent those “facts” from becoming reality for our kids.

The facts on the benefits of pre-k are pretty clear too:

The preschool years are a critical time period for development.
Children in high quality pre-k have strong outcomes which last into adulthood.
Publicly-funded pre-k helps the economy in many, many ways.
Pre-k helps support families.
Pre-k is a powerful crime prevention tool.
Children who enroll in pre-k start school ready to learn.

I learned about many of these facts years later in graduate school. They are each powerful, and any one of them could stand alone as reason enough to fund Pre-k in our state.

But while the research and facts are solidly compelling, I still go back to those days of working with three and four year olds to see the true benefit of publicly funded preschool education.

Each day I taught, I could see the joy as the children entered the room.

I could feel the warmth as they greeted me with hugs.

I noted the wonder as we read new books together, and learned to write and count and create and investigate.

I saw their wheels turning as they experimented at the water table.

I could see their future mommy and daddy selves being nurtured as they cared for their baby dolls.

I heard their diplomacy muscles being flexed as they worked to find peaceful ways to resolve conflicts.

I knew then, in the midst of all those daunting statistics and well before I read the research showing the benefits of pre-k… that what really mattered most were those moments in our classroom.

What mattered was how the children and I spent our days. How we created a joyful learning community where we all felt safe and loved and eager to learn. I knew that it was enough just to value that time we had together.

All of that other stuff I know now… icing on the cake.