The value of preschool

I believe in preschool. I attended two years of preschool myself. My parents tell me that I didn’t like it – the teachers were too strict. My son also attended two years of preschool, and he enjoyed it enormously – he was ready for a little independence and we were ready to let him spread his wings.

Last month, I saw two television ads promoting preschool in Hawaii, sponsored by BeMyVoiceHawaii.org. One ad proclaimed, “Our children are behind before they start. Nearly half of Hawaii’s public school kindergarteners didn’t attend preschool. Ask your legislator to fund preschool for all four-year olds.” The second ad warned ominously, “The state of Hawaii spends nearly $50 thousand dollars a year on each prison inmate and almost nothing on our preschoolers. Don’t imprison our children’s future.”

These ads really made me think about the value of preschool. Did preschool really give me an advantage in school? If I hadn’t sent my son to preschool, would he really have been behind the other students, never quite able to catch up?

According to BeMyVoiceHawaii.org, young children are ready for early learning – 85% of human brain development occurs before age five. And in Hawaii, every $1 spent on quality early education services means a $4.20 return on investment in reduced spending on social welfare programs.

It’s tempting to think that preschool is a “silver bullet” that can solve Hawaii’s problems with education and poverty. I’m sure that legislators will debate whether the Department of Education can provide high-quality, meaningful preschool, and whether we can afford to offer preschool to all Hawaii children.

But there is a more fundamental question: is preschool crucial for a child to do well in school?

Developmental psychologist and educator Raymond S. Moore and reading specialist Dorothy N. Moore offer a different perspective in their book, “Better Late Than Early: A New Approach to Your Child’s Education” (1975). The authors believe that formal schooling should start when children are older, not younger, and they present three compelling arguments:

1. The home is the primary institution for young children, who need continuous, consistent, and responsible parenting. Early schooling shifts role models away from parents to a teacher and other children, and may undermine parental authority

2. “Children are not ready for sustained learning programs until ages eight to ten” (page xvi). Younger children may not be developmentally ready for structured learning – their brains may not be developed enough for reasoning, their eyes may not see well enough to read close text, and their ears may not readily distinguish and remember sounds.

3. Early separation from parents is the principle source of anxiety and behavioral problems; and that early schooling can lead to an unhappy school experience and lower achievement.

“We see the home as potentially more cost-effective than the school for developing young children,” the authors conclude, “and we find that projected governmental preschool programs may be so costly as to ruin the whole early childhood movement.”

Where do you stand on the issue of preschool? Can Hawaii provide preschool effectively and can taxpayers afford it? How important is preschool for our children’s future?

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2 Comments on “The value of preschool”


  1. Preschool is very important. It prepares your child for the regular school and also helps in the social and cognitive development of the child.


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