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Access to Early Education Closes the Readiness Gap

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Being prepared for kindergarten means having access to early education resources. The so-called readiness gap is what separates children from being prepared for school from those who are not.

Research conducted shows that when children are exposed to educational opportunities during the important formative pre-school years, they will be better prepared for kindergarten as well as the years that follow. It has been proven that children who attend preschool, receive written resource materials in the home and who engage in technology have a stronger skill set that prepares them for school.

Prioritizing high quality preschool education has been on political agendas for some time and state policymakers crossing party lines have pursued the goal of universal preschool, however this has not gained traction on Capitol Hill. Some countries are close to establishing universal preschool enrollment for four year olds, but so far the United States has yet to get there. Therefore, private preschool and state funded pre-schools are the best and only options to date.

In 2012, it has been reported that 69% of American four year-olds were enrolled in early childhood educational programs putting the US 28th among 38 countries studied and below the 79% average enrollment for four year olds across the study. France, the Netherlands, Spain, and Mexico had enrollment rates of 95% or higher.

There is a direct correlation to low-income families that do not have written materials at home and their peers in middle-income neighborhoods, who fare better in being developmentally prepared for school. Research shows a language gap as early as 18 months, indicating higher-income parents typically speak to their children more using larger vocabularies.

The tech gap is evident in the readiness gap. “According to the U.S. Census, just 47percent of children ages three through five in families with annual incomes of less than $25,000 have access to computers at home, compared with 90 percent in families with annual incomes of $100,000 or more.”

The research outcomes are driving change and more young children are enrolling in early learning programs in the United States yearly. However, low income households continue to lag which translate into children who are not as prepared for school. Studies continue to prove that early childhood education pays off and preschool for four-years-old should become commonplace. Eliminating the readiness gap should continue to be a goal; this can be achieved by more access to preschool programs, written materials in the home and access to technology resources that challenge and stimulate preschoolers and improve readiness. The long-term benefits will be found in decreasing the readiness gap and increasing children who can transition seamlessly into kindergarten.

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