Children enter kindergarten around the age of 5 and come from a variety of early educational experiences. Some children attend public preschool, while others attend voluntary pre-kindergarten classes at a private daycare facility. Others still are homeschooled. Given the variety of educational foundations, children’s outcomes tend to vary as well. Understanding what introductory academic experiences are most beneficial to children, and what factors put them most at risk for academic challenges, will help reduce the number of students who have to repeat kindergarten or subsequent grades. To study this, Adam Winsler of the Department of Psychology at George Mason University in Virginia assessed 13,191 culturally diverse children from Miami.
Winsler evaluated how prepared the children were for kindergarten based on retention levels. He examined the influence of minority status, maternal schooling, socioeconomic status, single-parent households, gender, and primary language. He found that few participants had delayed entry into kindergarten. Of those who did, the majority were English-speaking boys who had been enrolled in private daycare at age 4. Low level of maternal education also predicted lack of readiness in the participants.
The participants were from an ethnically diverse city, both limiting and strengthening the findings. The fact the findings will be difficult to replicate in other cities is a weakness, but the use of such a broad cultural sample provides a glimpse into the educational needs of an underanalyzed group of students. Despite these conditions, the results clearly showed that the Caucasian students with limited language skills and private daycare experience were most likely to have delayed or repeated kindergarten. Winsler believes parents should consider using assessment tools to determine their children’s readiness. He also believes that those in private daycare may benefit from an alternate educational foundation. “Early exposure to the public school system in the context of pre-K programs may help at-risk children progress normally in terms of their early academic promotion trajectories,” Winsler said.
Winsler, Adam, Linsey A. Hutchison, Jessica J. De Feyter, Louis Manfra, Charles Bleiker, Suzanne C. Hartmann, and Jerome Levitt. Child, family, and childcare predictors of delayed school entry and kindergarten retention among linguistically and ethnically diverse children. Dev 48.5 (2012): 1299-314. Print.
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