Prekindergarten: Harmful or Helpful?

A decade long study released in 2022 and conducted by researchers at Vanderbilt University followed two groups of children from early childhood through sixth grade. Surprisingly, the study found that the group of children who attended traditional public prekindergarten, while initially performing at a higher level than their counterparts, were overwhelmingly outperformed by them by the end of sixth grade.

However, researchers emphasize that this study and others like it does not mean early childhood programming isn’t important – in fact, they argue, it is very essential!  They point out that this study shines a spotlight on what traditional prekindergarten programming fails to provide. ”

Traditional Prekindergarten Overemphasizes Tip of the Iceberg Skills

Researchers have theories about the discrepancy in performance between the two control groups, including the fact that those in traditional prekindergarten classrooms tended to “drill kids” on basic skills (worksheets, tracing letters and numbers). Head researcher Dale Farran includes letters, sounds, numbers and academic school readiness as “tip-of-the-iceberg concrete skills”, and indicates that studies show that “early attention skills are more important than early academic skills as predictors of long-term school success.”

Traditional Prekindergarten Lecture Rather than Listen

Traditional Prekindergarten Overemphasizes Control

Farran also noted that the highly structured, rule-based environment that requires a large amount of control over young children may contribute to later problems. “I think children are not learning internal control,” she said.

Montessori offers individualized, child-led learning
Montessori offers individualized, child-led learning
Montessori students lead their own learning journey. This student enjoys a hands on exploration of multiplication.
Montessori students lead their own learning journey. This student enjoys a hands on exploration of multiplication.

Quality Early Childhood Programming Develops Underlying Skills

Quality Early Childhood Programming Takes a Whole-Child Approach

Diverse experiences and learning through interactions with adults and friends, as well as predictable routines, positive responses, freedom to choose (within defined limits), enrichment activities, time to focus, adult scaffolding, and support for risk-taking, were key characteristics of the quality programming, says Farran, all contributing toward developing the “whole-child” rather than just cognitive functions.

Farran mentions that Montessori programs and others like it provide young children with these “positive, enhancing experiences”.

Sonnet Montessori’s Holistic Programming

Sonnet Montessori is a holistic early childhood program, offering full and/or part time care options for infants, toddlers, preschool and kindergarten. Our program is founded on respect for the child and our mission to put good humans into the world and leave the world better than we found it.

Our days are filled with discovery, learning, wonder, and fun. Through hands on exploration and individualized, child-led learning, we inspire independence and confidence. Our program includes community visitors and guests, outdoor learning and convenient, on-site extracurricular and enrichment activities such as gymnastics, dance and sports.

This child is carefully tending to a plant, growing her ability to concentrate while enjoying the beauty and intricacy of plant life.
This child is carefully tending to a plant, growing her ability to concentrate while enjoying the beauty and intricacy of plant life.

Sonnet Montessori Offers Quality & Value

This toddler is enjoying an immersive sensorial experience as he scrubs a pumpkin, developing concentration as well as fine and gross motor movement.
This toddler is enjoying an immersive sensorial experience as he scrubs a pumpkin, developing concentration as well as fine and gross motor movement.

Share:

Like
Tweet
Share
Pin It