In August, the Little Comets Preschool Program opened, creating another early-education option many in the Grand Ledge community see as a necessity for their children.
Superintendent Brian Metcalf was told about the concept by the board of education members when he successfully interviewed for the superintendent position nearly three years ago.
“Year one was how-to, year two was putting the pieces in place and now, year three, it’s up and running,” he said.
The program is “exceptionally important” to the school district, because it provides children with an educational foundation that benefits them far past their elementary and high school experience, Metcalf said.
“If you get the students educated early on, they have a higher level of success in life,” he said.
Corey Drake, director of teacher education at MSU, also said early learners can yield long-term benefits from a preschool education.
“The effects of preschool go well beyond elementary school: all the way to high school graduation and employment,” Drake said. “A quality preschool focused on social and emotional development will have long term effects on the child’s approach to learning and confidence to learn.”
According to the school district’s website, social and emotional development are part of the play-based preschool program’s curriculum, along with cognitive and physical development.
To examine the long-term effects of preschool education, in the mid-’60s, researchers led by David Weikart experimented by evaluating 123 black children as they grew up. The children all were of low socioeconomic status, were assessed as having a high risk of school failure and had tested with low IQ scores.
The experimental group, made up of 58 children, was subjected to preschool education. The control group, made up of 65 children, was not.
As the children grew, a distinction formed between the two groups. The experimental group consistently yielded more favorable outcomes than the control group across numerous evaluations of educational performance, crime prevention and economic status.
“We can see that preschool gets kids off to a good start,” Drake said. “Preschool should be an option for everybody. As a state, as a country, we should provide a preschool opportunity.”
Editor’s note: General welfare assistance indicates receiving social services at some time