Ready for kindergarten?

Smarter child care: Adding education to pre-school programs would prepare kids for learning.

March 08, 2000

GIVING young children the tools for learning in the initial school years is absolutely crucial. Yet far too many enter kindergarten woefully unprepared. Many never catch up.

This is the motivation behind a bill in Annapolis, with powerful sponsorship, that aims to improve the early childhood education kids receive in day care centers. What's proposed is an $8 million program (double that amount is probably needed) of grants to local school systems that work with day care centers to come up with high-quality education programs for these kids. Grants would also be used to give day-care workers more training on how to prepare young children for their early school years.

This is especially crucial in Maryland's poorer communities, where children arrive for kindergarten or first grade with too few developmental skills.

That's why so many impoverished elementary schools in Baltimore City score abysmally on standardized tests.

Ninety percent of a child's brain development occurs by age three. The pre-school period is a critical time for learning. That's when education efforts must begin.

Too much money is now wasted on remedial efforts to try to get older children reading, computing and reasoning at grade level by age 9. We must start much sooner, when early financial investments can pay off handsomely.

Putting more education into day care centers, in a cooperative effort with local school systems, is a sensible step that deserves strong support from the legislature and from the Glendening administration. The sooner kids get into the learning mode, the easier it will be for them throughout their lives.

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