Full Day Preschool Increased School Readiness

Dr. Arthur Reynolds PhD, Professor Humphrey School of Public Affairs University of Illinois at ChicagoMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Arthur Reynolds PhD, Professor
Institute of Child Development
Humphrey School of Public Affairs
University of Minnesota

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Reynolds: Given the high national priority on enhancing early childhood development, evidence about the relationship between full-day preschool participation and school readiness is meager.

The study found that among about 1000 children attending 11 schools in low-income neighborhood. participation in full-day preschool at ages 3 or 4 for 7 hours per day was associated with significantly higher school readiness skills at the end of preschool in language and literacy, socio-emotional development, math, and physical health than part-day participation for 3 hours per day.  This translate to about a half of a year of growth in learning. Full-day preschool was also associated with significantly higher attendance and lower rates of chronic absences. No differences were found in parent involvement in school.

Medical Research: What should patients and clinicians take away from this report?

Dr. Reynolds: The availability of full-day preschool (prekindergarten) programs is a valuable strategy for strengthening school readiness in many domains of functioning and may therefore reduce the need for behavioral interventions to remediate or treat emergent problem behaviors that interfere with learning. The reported association with reduced chronic absences suggests that by addressing parents’ interests for a full-day center environment and increasing learning time, greater participation in early schooling is facilitated. This positive pattern of behavior can establish a strong foundation for later learning.

Medical Research: What Recommendations for future research do you have a result of this work?

Dr. Reynolds: It is important to determine the generalizability of the findings to other programs. The Midwest Child-Parent Center Program provides high quality education and family support services. The extent to which the findings are similar for different programs not having  the same level of quality needs to be further examined. For example, the Midwest Child-Parent Centers has small classes run by certified BA-level teachers that receive significant support in instruction.

The extent the gains from full-day preschool are sustained into kindergarten and later grades also needs further study. Although long-term effects of preschool programs are well-established, whether this applies to different dosages of participation (e.g., full-day vs. part-day) is much less clear.



Last Updated on November 26, 2014 by Marie Benz MD FAAD