There are nearly 21 million children in the U.S. age 5 or younger…the period in life that scientists tell us has more impact on a child’s development than any other. And although there are 3 million more preschoolers than teenagers, we spend more on education for teens than for infants, toddlers and preschoolers combined. It’s not a good strategy.
Fourth- and eighth-grade students in the United States continue to lag behind students in other countries in math and science, says this New York Time article. It doesn’t have to be this way.
In the Ferguson Florissant School District in Missouri, children who have participated in the district’s Parents as Teachers program have consistently scored significantly higher in math and reading than their peers.
How does this happen? The International Study Center at Boston College has measured international trends in fourth- and eighth-grade math and science achievement for 20 years. They found that students whose parents engaged with them often—singing or playing number games and reading aloud—were higher achievers.
They also found that students with preschool experience performed better. This supports findings by Yale researcher Dr. Edward Zigler that participation in Parents as Teachers predicts children’s school readiness and third grade achievement, regardless of income level.
At a time when the U.S. economy is so fragile, shouldn’t we be engaging families with their children, schools and other parents in order to maximize the brain power of every future American worker?
Investing modest dollars in proven family engagement strategies such as Parents as Teachers will help eliminate the lag in U.S. student performance, strengthen families and communities, and position the United States and our citizens to regain our position as the world’s economic and intellectual engine.