We often hear about preschool being unattainable for low income families. But it’s not just those living at or below the poverty line who can’t afford preschool—a key component to early childhood development. Middle class families—even those with college educations—also struggle to squeeze their budgets enough to pay for preschool. I’ve met many of these families who want to enroll their children into preschool, but shrug their shoulders because, “It’s too expensive.” Grrrr. How are we supposed to raise people who contribute to society and mankind, when society doesn’t make it attainable?
Here’s an article that stresses the importance of early childhood education (although it refers to those poverty as the people missing out on it when it’s really middle class parents too).
Missing Out on Early Childhood Development
Study after study has shown that the earliest of experiences are essential, and supportive environments critical, to long term outcomes for kids. But by the time many children in poverty reach five years old and enter school, they already face an achievement gap. Teachers and schools do everything they can, but struggle to close the gap and put students on a trajectory to success in school and the workforce.
Early childhood participants are ready to learn and contribute in school from day one. They experience stronger academic gains and better social and emotional development. Over the course of their lifetimes, they are 33 percent more likely to be employed and earn on average $5,500 more per year than their peers who didn’t participate in early learning programs.
That’s a bummer to read if you know you can’t afford preschool. So what to do? Here are some low-cost and free ideas to boost early childhood development:
Take your child to museums, storytimes (at libraries and book stores) and the park to socialize with other children. Engage them in art projects, write their name in sand or dirt, sing the alphabet song in the car, and let them prepare easy meals by measuring with cups and spoons. Be creative! Also, don’t be afraid to take advantage of free trial classes offered at children’s gyms, art studios, dance centers, etc. These are great opportunities for your child to explore extracurricular activities.