Wednesday, March 12, 2008

early intervention

I went to observe at a daycare center today since one of their students will be mine next year. This is the 3rd time I've gone on one of these observations and every time I am ridiculously amazed by how much the preschoolers know. Many of them are well-above where some of our kids are when they start kindergarten. I've even had first graders start the year below where these preschoolers are.

Its simple things they know, like how to hold a book, how to point to each word, one at a time, the difference between a letter and a word. They can recognize their names, and identify the letters in their names. They can write their names. They can count all the legs on a cow, and count how many children sit at their table. They can identify their colors.

They are a million times more prepared for kindergarten than the children who do not attend any sort of preschool or day care and have no 'education' at home. They are so many steps ahead.
Politicians who argue that early intervention is a waste of tax-payer money leave me baffled by the meaning of 'waste'. How can we expect a child with no introduction to printed language to perform at the same academic level as children who have been exposed to print from the day they were born? If we are closing the achievement gap, why do we let them enter our school world with such a wide gap in place?

I don't want crazy academic preschools, I just want children in a literacy-rich environment. I want them hearing language so they have opportunities to practice processing language, understanding language, and using language. I want them to know language has meaning, that colors have names, that books have stories, and that we have 2 ears, 2 eyes, and 5 fingers on each hand and we can count them by touching each one and saying a number in a sequence.

This is my soapbox.

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