Preschool kids get head start, study finds

Academic skills. Advantage can last through Grade 3 
CanWest News Service)
© The Gazette (Montreal),  December 05, 2006

Preschool is better preparation for kindergarten than the attention of a stay-at-home mom, new research shows.

The national study in the United States found children who attend preschool - centre-based care - enter public schools with higher levels of academic skills than their peers who experienced other types of child care, including a stay-at-home parent and being cared for by other relatives and babysitters.

And the preschool advantage in reading and math persists through Grade 3 unless children are placed in small classes with high levels of reading instruction.

"The key is you really have to look at what happens at home vs. what happens at preschool or centre-based care," lead author Katherine Magnuson, of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, said in an interview.

"A lot of centres in the past 10 years have adopted an early education curriculum.

"While it's true parents can give one-on-one attention, they also run errands, talk to their friends, put (children) in front of the television."

The study, to be published in the forthcoming edition of Early Childhood Research Quarterly, assessed the skills of a sample of 7,748 children at school entry in 1998. The researchers then tested their academic progress in math and reading in the spring of Grades 1 and 3.

After controlling for home and family resources, the team found that by the spring of Grade 1, the advantages in kindergarten associated with preschool attendance had largely dissipated for children experiencing class sizes of 20 youngsters or less and enjoying levels of reading instruction in excess of the average of 61 to 90 minutes a day.

"Whether their peers overcome their early deficits or whether preschool attendees maintain their advantage is, in part, a function of the subsequent classroom environment," the study says. By the spring of Grade 3, the differences associated with preschool attendance had disappeared for those in the more enriched classrooms. "By contrast, a marked advantage persists among their counterparts in low instruction or large classes," the study found. In fact, for children who were not enrolled in preschool before entering kindergarten and who subsequently attended large classes and received low reading instruction, the skills gap appears to grow, the study found. "What is particularly interesting, however, is that estimated benefits of preschool appear to increase between spring of the first and third grades, suggesting that the benefits measured in the third grade may persist into subsequent school years and even raising the possibility of 'sleeper effects' that increase in size in later grades."

Tara Connolly, an Ottawa-based educator and consultant, says there are a variety of child-care options that can be beneficial. But the licensed centre her family has chosen for her son, Phoenix, 3, is the right fit for him.

"We chose a centre-based care that could provide him with a chance to socialize as well as opportunities to see himself as a learner," she said.

For Connolly, a loving and caring environment is very important. But she's pleased to have access to a setting that also focuses on quality programming.

Equally important for her family is that the preschool opens up her son's world, building on his experiences at home and providing an inclusive environment with a diverse group of kids. This helps build his sense of community, she said. Connolly just hopes the conclusions of the study help persuade Ottawa to support the development of licensed daycare. "I'm saddened by the lack of support from government to support this kind of care."

Child care has been a hot topic since this year's federal election. The Conservative government has since implemented its plan, a taxable $100 monthly allowance for parents of children under 6 to be spent how they wish.



$20 Dollar Bill


A well-known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $20.00 bill. In the room of 200, he asked, "Who would like this $20 bill?" Hands started going up. He said, "I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first, let me do this. He proceeded to crumple the $20 dollar Bill up.

He then asked, "Who still wants it?" Still the hands were up in the air. Well, he replied, "What if I do this?" And he dropped it on the Ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty. "Now, who still wants it?" Still the hands went into the air.


My friends, we have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20.


Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value. Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to those who DO LOVE you. The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or who we know, but by WHO WE ARE. You are special - Don't EVER forget it."


If a Dog were Your Teacher, You Would Learn Stuff Like: Dedicated to our late dog Duncan, who used to show up at the classroom from time to time, who did exactly this (except the growling and biting part). He was so full of love; all of the children used to love him, even the ones who were afraid of animals as he was so gentle.


When loved ones come home, always run to great them. Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride. Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy. When it’s in your best interest, practice obedience. Let others know when they’ve invaded your territory. Take naps. Stretch before rising.

Run, romp and play daily. Thrive on attention and let people touch you. Avoid biting when a simple growl will do. On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass. On hat days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree. When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body. No matter how often you’re scolded, don’t buy into the guilt thing and pout…run right back and make friends.

Delight in the simple joy of a long walk. Eat with gusto and enthusiasm. Stop when you have had enough. Be loyal. Never pretend to be something you’re not. When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.


You know, animals do have a lot to teach us about getting the most out of life.  All we have to do is pay attention !

Before I was a Mom

Before I was a Mom

I slept as late as I wanted and never worried about how late I got into bed. I brushed my hair and my teeth everyday.

Before I was a Mom

I cleaned my house each day. I never tripped over toys or forgot words to a lullaby. I didn't worry whether or not my plants were poisonous. I never thought about immunizations.

Before I was a Mom

I had never been puked on, Pooped on, Spit on, Chewed on, Peed on. I had complete control of my mind and my thoughts. I slept all night.

Before I was a Mom

I never held down a screaming child so that doctors could do tests. Or give shots. I never looked into teary eyes and cried. I never got gloriously happy over a simple grin. I never sat up late hours at night watching a baby sleep.

Before I was a Mom

I never held a sleeping baby just because I didn't want to put it down. I never felt my heart break into a million pieces when I couldn't stop the hurt. I never knew that something so small could affect my life so
much. I never knew that I could love someone so much. I never knew I would love being a Mom.

Before I was a Mom

I didn't know the feeling of having my heart outside my body. I didn't know how special it could feel to feed a hungry baby. I didn't know that bond between a mother and her child. I didn't know that something so small could make me feel so important and happy.

Before I was a Mom

I had never gotten up in the middle of the night every 10 minutes to make sure all was okay. I had never known the warmth, the joy, the love, the heartache, the wonderment or the satisfaction of being a Mom. I didn't know I was capable of feeling so much before I was a Mom.

And before I was a Grandma

I didn’t know that all those "Mom" feelings more than doubled !
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