Every child can start school by the time they are four years of age. This is what New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been saying for several years now, and he wants it to become reality very soon.
Considering that the Mayor of New York City wants to implement this program which has been a heated argument in New York City for years now, is this a good idea or not?
No longer will children be introduced to school at the age of five, they would have a mandatory first year of school starting at the age of four. Many children in the Big Apple and in the counties lying just outside this bustling city of eight million already are in pre-kindergarten classes. But do four year old children really need to start school a year earlier? Does it give them a head start on learning by entering school at four rather than at five?
ARE KIDS READY?
The real question that needs to be answered besides does it make them smarter, and are they ready to start school at the age of four? There are two answers to that question; yes and no.
Some children are ready to start school at four, and are more than ready willing and able to follow their siblings to the bus every morning to school to have some fun and start learning. Other children don't ever want to start school, and would be better off being home schooled.
While other children still, are puzzled by an early start, and probably would warm up to the idea once they have gotten used to the school and their new friends. As it is, some parents realize that their children aren't ready for school at age five, and hold them back until they turn six. By this age they have matured and are ready to learn
For children who have received the benefits of private pre school at age three, or who have had an older sibling or a parent teaching them the basics such as the ABC's their numbers, and reading readiness, then these children should sail into pre-kindergarten and have very successful school careers. But for others who do not have an enriching home life, than they are already at a disadvantage when starting school, these kids would already be behind before they even started pre-k. Of course, this can be said when they start kindergarten at age five also.
To make pre-kindergarten work successfully for everyone would mean incorporating a lot of fun, enriching activities for the children to learn the basics. By making it fun and creative, kids who are already at a disadvantage would be able to learn by having a good time, and hopefully not feel behind. It might even be helpful for the children to be split into learning groups to assess their learning readiness and teach them in smaller groups.
IS PRIVATE PRESCHOOL BETTER?
Thousands of children already board school buses early every morning and go to pre-k. They already have the benefit of getting a head start on education by being enrolled in costly private schools that parents were aggressively trying to get them admitted into practically from birth. Private pre school in New York City costs almost as much for just one of pre-k, the same as one entire year at an expensive private college. Trevor Day School costs $24,200 a year. Horace Mann costs $26,880 and New York's Ethical Culture Fieldstone School costs $30,440 a year.
Just getting a child in an exclusive, private pre-school currently is a painful process. Parents must call far in advance to just get an application to fill out. After months of waiting, they receive a phone call to schedule an interview which is called a "play date",
This is when the parents bring their child in to be questioned to see how they will fit into the school. Some schools actually want a written essay. All this doesn't mean the child gets in either; he or she must meet all the criteria. Sometime next year, parents receive notification if their child has been accepted or rejected by the school. Can you imagine a three year old being rejected so early in life?
All of this would go by the wayside, and all four year old children would be admitted, just as five year olds are when they start kindergarten. Every child would be able to start receiving an education at an earlier age, and all four year olds would be on a more level playing field. Private pre-schools would probably still exist, with people having money being able to afford to give their children a better education.
IS IT AFFORDABLE?
New York City Mayor Bloomberg says the cost of putting four year old chidlren into school a year earlier would cost about $500 million dollars a year. He says it won't be coming from taxpayers, at least not yet. The money has already been allocated for, but is being held up by the court system. This would cover the costs of everything needed for enrolling kids in school one year earlier, which would mean hiring more teachers, and teachers aids, getting more buses and bus drivers, and books to read. New York City would need more rooms, possibly meaning building more schools. More tables, desks, and computers, and chalk and everything imaginable would be needed.
Just implementing the program would cost $500 million dollars a year, or more, if new schools need to be built. It is an expensive proposition trying to get four years olds into school a year early. After the initial startup costs, and after a year or two of successful implementation, then it would be time to see if the program was worth it the extra drain on New York City resident's pockets.
Considering that New York City is one of the most expensive places to live in the world, many families have to have two incomes, just to survive. The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services says that 62 percent of mothers of children under six are in the labor force.
With both Mom and Dad working, they are leaving the youngest children with a babysitter, or with Grandma and Grandpa or with another relative or even at daycare. Daycare, preschool, and babysitters come at what can be a high cost of working for many families. With spending so much money every year on daycare for kids under five, it would be easier and cheaper for parents to be able to put their kids in school at a younger age.
Sometimes a family can't afford any daycare or babysitter and are forced to take the child with them to work, or leave a little one in less than ideal surroundings. They may be leaving the child with an older child who could care less, and just lets the child sit in front of television all day. Grandparents that have already raised their own children take on the role of caregiver while the parent works. That's not always an ideal situation either, with Grandma and Grandpa being older, and not having the energy to take care of a little person that needs a lot of attention and love.
For many children it could be a win-win situation for them to start school at four years of age. This way they would be in a safe environment, being fed regular meals. At school they can make new friends, and learn and grow by enrichment activities. They could learn many things they would not have otherwise learned at home by watching TV all day. They would be learning new things such as how to use a computer, tying their shoes, learning their ABC's and how to count. Mom and Dad could save some money and have more money to spend on their children.
With preschool being the new kindergarten and kindergarten being the new first grade, children can start learning earlier. By being in school they can be taught by an actual schoolteacher who can do an excellent job of teaching a child what he or she needs to know. This way most New York City children will be able benefit from early learning. The children will be in a warm, safe environment, with other kids their age, having fun being creative, and getting to go on fun-filled field trips to experience things they would not have otherwise being at home with a babysitter who may not care as much. Parents can save a lot of money every year, and find comfort in the knowledge that their kids are okay, and have made so many new friends.
With pre kindergarten just around the corner for every four year old child in New York City, every child can get a quality education without their parents having to go through the rigors of trying to get their children admitted into a private school. No child will have to feel the sting of rejection at such an early age.
SOURCES: www.forbes.com, www.warnerblogsnytimes.com