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Preschool Improves Educational and Social Outcomes for Children of Immigrants, Study Finds

PreK BoomA new study carried out by researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara, shows that pre-kindergarten education has significant benefits for children from immigrant families and can help them to be better prepared for elementary schooling.

Children born to immigrant parents are the largest-growing segment of young children in the country, and yet these children are also the least likely to be enrolled in early education initiatives, either privately or publically funded. Hoping to elucidate the consequences of such trends, lead author Michael A. Gottfried, with Hui Yon Kim, evaluated data collected in studies carried out over the last decade.

“The findings were as crystal clear as they get in educational research,” Gottfried wrote in a summary of their findings published by the Sacramento Bee March 4. “In more than 90% of studies, attending formal pre-kindergarten improved English proficiency and reading and math skills for children from immigrant families. Children who stayed in informal settings were not as prepared.”

Immigrant families are more likely to come from low-income backgrounds, and are less likely to know English and understand the U.S. schooling system than non-immigrant families, which is why their children tend to be kept at home, receiving an informal education, up until kindergarten.

But according to Gottfried, this places children of immigrants even further behind students who have had the benefit of an extra year of a school-like environment because of attending formal pre-K. “Already at risk of starting school behind their peers, they are becoming even more so by not attending formal preschool. Thus, a ‘school readiness gap’ precedes the achievement gap,” he explains.

A new study carried out by researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara, shows that pre-kindergarten education has significant benefits for children from immigrant families and can help them to be better prepared for elementary schooling.

Children born to immigrant parents are the largest-growing segment of young children in the country, and yet these children are also the least likely to be enrolled in early education initiatives, either privately or publically funded. Hoping to elucidate the consequences of such trends, lead author Michael A. Gottfried, with Hui Yon Kim, evaluated data collected in studies carried out over the last decade.

“The findings were as crystal clear as they get in educational research,” Gottfried wrote in a summary of their findings published by the Sacramento Bee March 4. “In more than 90% of studies, attending formal pre-kindergarten improved English proficiency and reading and math skills for children from immigrant families. Children who stayed in informal settings were not as prepared.”

Immigrant families are more likely to come from low-income backgrounds, and are less likely to know English and understand the U.S. schooling system than non-immigrant families, which is why their children tend to be kept at home, receiving an informal education, up until kindergarten.

But according to Gottfried, this places children of immigrants even further behind students who have had the benefit of an extra year of a school-like environment because of attending formal pre-K. “Already at risk of starting school behind their peers, they are becoming even more so by not attending formal preschool. Thus, a ‘school readiness gap’ precedes the achievement gap,” he explains.

Social Benefits and Policy Recommendations
The benefits of pre-K for children of immigrants appear to extend beyond academic readiness, as well. Gottfried and Kim found that in every one of the studies from which they pulled data, the children improved their social and emotional skills while in pre-K.

Gottfried and Kim’s report suggests that policymakers should respond to this evidence by broadening access for children of immigrants to a year of pre-K education.

The study was funded by the Kevin and Kim Bacon Award and has been published by the University of California Center Sacramento.

The benefits of pre-K for children of immigrants appear to extend beyond academic readiness, as well. Gottfried and Kim found that in every one of the studies from which they pulled data, the children improved their social and emotional skills while in pre-K.

Gottfried and Kim’s report suggests that policymakers should respond to this evidence by broadening access for children of immigrants to a year of pre-K education.

The study was funded by the Kevin and Kim Bacon Award and has been published by the University of California Center Sacramento.



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