WASHINGTON, D.C. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — A new study suggests that children who miss preschool on a regular basis might make fewer academic gains than their classmates, and that it might not take too many days away from the classroom for absenteeism to make an impact. Here are more details on what parents need to know about skipping preschool for their kids.
If you think preschool is just fun and games for three- and four-year-olds, think again. Woven into the stories and songs are the basics of language and math.
So what happens when a preschool student misses class on a regular basis? Arya Ansari, PhD, is a child psychologist at the University of Virginia and an expert in early childhood education. He and his colleagues examined data from 2,800 students from low-income households enrolled in head start programs.
“What we found was that children missed an average of roughly eight days over the course of a school year and approximately 12 percent of the children were chronically absent,” Ansari told Ivanhoe.
Chronically absent students missed at least ten percent of the school year, or an average of 22 days.
“To put it in practical terms, these children who missed ten percent or more of the year, their lost opportunities amounted to two or three months,” detailed Ansari.
At the end of the school year, parents reported total absences and performance was assessed in language, literacy, and math. Chronically absent students made fewer gains.
“What these findings suggest is that missing school, even at ages three and four, does matter. A day here or there does add up,” Ansari told Ivanhoe.
In addition to ensuring that a child attends preschool, developmental experts say that parental engagement at home, reading books, and playing games with a child can help build the foundation they are missing when they are not at school.
The researchers say that preschool attendance is hard to track, because unlike K–12 schooling, preschool attendance is not mandated by law. The results were published in the journal Child Development.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising and Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor and Videographer.
Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.