There are many milestones on the parental journey. When it comes to the first born child, parents can become full-time scribes, amateur historical documentarians ready to commit life-events of the slightest importance to the Library of Congress. By the time even the second child comes around, parents are content to have a picture or two on their phone.
First born child: “Look, Madison lost a tooth! Prepare the hermetically sealed jar for storage!”
Second born child: “Owen lost a tooth. I think it fell on the floor and I vacuumed it up by accident. Meh.”
One milestone when reached by the youngest child is cause for celebration not unlike post-World War II victory parades – the day your youngest child no longer attends pre-school. Once I fully realized the implication of no more pre-school – no more drop-offs, no more monthly payments – I grabbed my wife and kissed her like a sailor on shore leave.
The importance of pre-Kindergarten education is well documented. Not to go all Nate Silver stat-geek on you, gentle reader, but a meta-analysis out of the University of Colorado claims, “significant effects were found… for children who attend a preschool program prior to entering kindergarten.” Dozens of studies confirm the essence of this finding. Not to get too deep in academic lingo, but it is safe to say that pre-Kindergarten education for children is good.
With all the talk from Presidential candidates about free college, I can’t help but wonder why we don’t put this kind of emphasis on pre-K? It can easily be argued that the societal benefit of having 3-4 year-old children learn to read, to write, to develop basic math skills, to learn social interaction, is a lot more valuable than college students blathering about microaggressions for four years.
The average middle-class family struggles to pay for pre-K education, which can cost anywhere from $400 to $2000 a month, depending on the work demands of the parents. Yes, in many ways pre-K facilities are glorified child-care centers. There can be no dispute as to the value to the child, however.
Freeing up money paid for pre-K education is a cause for celebration among working parents. It is a shame that parents who live paycheck to paycheck have to struggle so mightily to give their child such a clearly defined benefit, the benefit of structured education with children at similar learning levels. Having well-educated, well-adjusted children is a strong benefit to society. The long-term value of college is continually in question. The immediate value of pre-K education is obvious.
It seems to me that a little extra focus on the struggles of parents with small children would not be amiss.
Jeremy Rosenberg gave up the corporate
rat race years ago to become a freelance
writer and graduate student, as well as a
stay-at-home dad to his two children, Jack
and Eva. He also enjoys playing the guitar
and letting his cats fall asleep on his lap.