LOS ANGELES – Children whose parents speak very little or no English can substantially improve their reading skills by taking part in a preschool education program, according to a study released Wednesday by the Public Policy Institute of California.
The report titled “Preschool and School Readiness: Experiences of Children with Non-English-Speaking Parents” said increasing the amount of 4-year-olds enrolled in preschool would translate into a higher number of kids prepared to meet the academic requirements of formal schooling.
“Although California enrolls many linguistically isolated preschool-age children in center-based care, one-third of linguistically isolated children do not participate in these programs,” authors Jill S. Cannon, Alison Jacknowitz and Lynn A. Karoly said.
The study notes that many children start kindergarten ill-equipped to meet its requirements and this early unpreparedness can foreshadow low achievement throughout their schooling.
But when these minors – who make up nearly 20 percent of 4-year-olds in California – attend a high-quality preschool program such as Head Start they significantly improve their early reading skills and are better prepared to start school.
Similar improvements in math skills, however, were not seen among linguistically isolated pre-schoolers attending center-based programs, which can do more to promote school readiness in that subject area, the study said.
The report was based on the 2007 California Preschool Study survey and observation data collected by the RAND Corporation. EFE