Clarity By Keynote

It’s pretty common knowledge here on my blog that I often question my decision to return to work. It’s not that I don’t love my job or the company for whom I work — I completely do — just that I.Miss.Maya. Plain and simple.

This week, however, I felt a little bit more sure of myself after hearing some stats at a brainstorming session I attended to address education issues in our community — and, perhaps even more important, felt even more sure about the specific childcare facility we have chosen for Maya.

Allow me to explain.

Per our keynote speaker, Timothy Bartik (a senior economist at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research), early learning time — and especially extra early learning time — pays huge dividends.

Here are some examples from his presentation.

Half-day pre-K for one school year:
-Increases test scores at kindergarten entrance by 10 percentiles
-Lowers special education assignment rates by 40 percent
-Reduces high school dropout rates by 25 percent
-Reduces crime rates by 25 percent
-Increases adult earnings by 5 to 10 percent
-Increases present value of adult earnings by about four times the cost

Mandatory summer school in early elementary school grades:
-Students learn twice as fast as average student pace
-Increases present value of future adult earnings by about 8 times the cost

These stats blew me away. Clearly, the earlier kids begin learning — and the more time they spend learning in a hands-on environment (wherever that may be) — the more opportunity they have to advance and grow.

Of course, getting legislation passed that would mandate year-round preschool and finance summer school isn’t an easy undertaking — there are countless obstacles in the way, to be sure. But Tim’s presentation  was designed to inspire us to think big.

After all, in preschool, children learn social skills, communication skills, problem-solving skills, language skills, math skills, self-help skills, etc. They carry these skills with them for life. Though Maya isn’t in preschool yet, she will be someday.

[In fact, provided we are still here when she is three, Adventures has a preschool on site — which is why I don’t call it “baby school” for no reason — Adventures is more than a childcare facility; it’s a school. It has a complete curriculum for every stage of development from infant to pre-K … and instruction is year-round.]

So no, she’s isn’t with me during the week… and many days my heart aches because of that fact. But it’s a decision I made, a choice I made … and I am of the belief that it takes a village to raise a child. We parents play the most important role, of course … but outside influences matter, too: be it grandparents, aunts and uncles, teachers …

After hearing Tim’s presentation, I found deep comfort in knowing where she is four days a week, year-round … learning and growing. Yes, in a more perfect world, she’d be there just til 3 each day — and maybe someday that is where things will be — but for now, I’m feeling truly at peace about things.

And though I might always regret not being there 100 percent of the time — and might sometimes bemoan the fact that other women are helping to raise my daughter (which they are; there is no questioning that) — I also am beginning to see the benefit of her being in a school environment so young, and so consistently.

If I can’t be there, I know she’s in good hands.

That’s what I call ‘clarity by keynote.’ Thanks, Tim!

How about you? Do you think all children should be encouraged to attend year-round preschool? Would you send your elementary-aged child to summer school on your own accord (i.e., not only because teachers are recommending it)?


One thought on “Clarity By Keynote

  1. I definitely think kids should be encouraged to attend preschool. I am a third grade teacher and our kids buddy with kindergarten kids for reading buddies and other learning activities. The kindergarten teachers have told me numerous times the benefits of preschool before kindergarten.
    Personally I have a 2 year old – he is starting 2 day preschool next year. He goes to a babysitter during the day since I work full time, although I am on maternity leave with my second little boy right now. His babysitter is a former kindergarten teacher and stays home with her 2 kids. She does some educational activities with my son and her kids, which I love, and she takes him to playgroup so he gains social skills. But, I want him to be in a more organized school setting so that he learns and interacts with more kids. He loves to learn and has an amazing memory so I’m sure he’ll love it – once he gets over the initial shock!
    As for elementary kids going to summer school – I actually teach at a year round elementary school and I love it! I think it’s a huge benefit to both the kids and the staff – we get 3 weeks off every 9 weeks rather than a long summer break. There is no summer educational loss like there is with traditional school.

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