I always jump at the opportunity to talk about Pre-k and the benefit it serves for our youngest learners! I had the opportunity to teach Pre-K in Southwest Denver for 4 years and I wouldn’t trade that time for anything. Pre-K is a gift of time and opportunity. When a child walks into a classroom for the first time, their world is expanded in so many new ways. With a more discerning eye, a child’s routine of hanging up their backpack, washing their hands, and joining their peers at the table for breakfast, doubles a daily chance to build independence, time to learn patience, and meaningful exposure to diversity within their peers, may it be culturally, developmentally, or academically. All of that in just the first 5 minutes of the day!
I had a front row seat to these immense benefits of Pre-K and saw the impact that one year can have for children and families. Confident talkers get a chance to act as leaders, only children begin to develop empathy for same-aged peers, quiet observers can take in their surroundings, and everyone starts to develop their own personal identity.
If developing a sense of self isn’t enough for one year of school, there is also a huge academic benefit for children that attend Pre-K. Pre-K is designed to teach, review, and repeat content throughout the year, providing students several opportunities to master a skill. Struggling counting to 10? Don’t worry, you’ll practice all year! Can you already count to 50? Great, you can help lead the counting chant while you work on making it to the 100’s club. The repeated exposure to foundational skills is irreplaceable. There is also a whole section of the curriculum dedicated to play! It is becoming more widely known that playing is learning, and the outcomes are extremely valuable. Children allowed to play develop skills like problem solving, sharing, conversational speech, concentration, critical thinking, conflict resolution, social roleplaying, and a sense of imagination- just to name a few! Did I mention that it’s also really fun and encourages a love of learning that can serve as building blocks for their entire educational career?
As adults, we might remember Kindergarten as a time for blocks, finger paints, and Storytime. These days, however, kids hit the ground running with reading, writing, and arithmetic! Pre-K allows young learners more time to gain important skills at their own pace so that they feel more prepared and comfortable in Kindergarten. It is truly remarkable to watch a child’s love of learning spark in Pre-K and really take off in Kindergarten. In my last year teaching, I was lucky enough to “loop” with several of my Pre-K students, joining them the next year as their teacher in Kindergarten. The students that had attended Pre-K were generally more confident, more willing to participate, and often jumped in to help other students. I couldn’t help but smile watching a formerly shy and struggling student befriend a new classmate and act as a classroom buddy. I watched them sit a little taller when I referred to them as leaders and role models for younger students in the hallway, reminiscing on their past Pre-K days. I saw addition and subtraction, and eventually multiplication and division (yes, really!) click for students that persevered through challenges in math the year before.
Like I said, I never turn down a chance to gush about the wonderous world of PreK. I deeply believe in the life skills children get to learn by being at school and the early chance to be seen and loved, and in turn, see and love others. That is not only important in the classroom, but a lesson the world could learn as well.
Voters have an opportunity to help ensure all Colorado kids have access to pre-k on the ballot this November. Learn more about Proposition EE.