The political campaigns of 2008 are focusing a tremendous amount of attention on early childhood education in America. These politicians are filling their speeches with promise after promise of what the government can and should do to provide universal preschool for everyone. I am encouraged by these speeches, but feel like the emphasis on universal programs is financially impossible. Historically, our nation has only been able to fund preschool for the low-income sector, and even those programs (i.e., Head Start) haven’t produced the results promised.
Who is the most enthusiastic stakeholder in a child’s life? Who has the single most potential to define the educational potential of a child? Who is a child’s favorite playmate? The parents!
Parents want their child to walk into kindergarten confident and ready to be successful in school and life. So, parents need to be experts on their own child’s development. We must begin teaching our children from birth -- ourselves.
Not every parent in our nation has gone to school to be a teacher, but it is possible to define the what, when and how you teach a child before they enter kindergarten in a logical, fun and easy-to-manage way.
As a national board-certified kindergarten teacher, I have seen first-hand the decline in abilities (social and academic) and level of understanding of students entering kindergarten over the past 15 years. You are probably thinking that, given technological advances we should be improving, right? Yes, we should be -- but we are not! Several factors have led to the decline of student readiness and eagerness for learning in this new global society, including:
1. More single parent homes. According to The United States Census, three out of every 10 American children are living in single-parent homes. The biggest investment necessary for a child’s success in school and life is time. Time to motivate, time to model, time to mentor, time to share in learning activities, time to appreciate one another's strengths and work to improve weaknesses. When one adult pulls the weight of two, there is just never enough time!
2. More moms working full-time outside of the home. In the United States, the labor force participation of mothers with preschool-age children tripled between 1960 and 1990, rising from 20 percent to 60 percent. According to Stanford researcher Paula England, the workforce participation of mothers continued to rise during the 1990s, but at a much slower rate, so that by 2000, 65 percent of mothers of preschoolers were working.
Working moms often cope with chaos, tantrums, rushed dinners and fights over bedtime. Instead, this should be a time when working moms enjoy the precious few moments with their kids. These moms need an organized and quick resource to ensure their special time together is spent in a fun and meaningful way to relieve some of the guilt facing the working mother.