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Preschool education can prevent future academic failure, says study

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:36 IST

Childhood education lays the foundation of good careers and can prevent future academic failure, states a new study on early childhood education. Children, who complete preschool education, have a significant improvement in alphabet recognition skills as compared to those have just begun preschool, the study adds.

The study, by University of Missouri College of Education, points out the importance of pre-school years for children's educational development and preparation for success in school. Conducted by Francis Huang, an assistant professor of educational, school, and counseling psychology at MU, the study examines data of over 20,000 children who attended state-funded Virginia Pre-school Initiative.

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According to a release from the University of Missouri-Columbia, "About half of the children in the study had just entered the prekindergarten program while the other half had completed the prekindergarten program and were beginning kindergarten. Huang found that, on average, children who had finished a year of preschool had alphabet recognition skills that were more than 85 percent higher compared to those who had just begun the same program."

"Alphabet recognition has been shown to be one of the strongest and most reliable predictors of reading ability and, on its own, letter name knowledge can be as effective as administering an entire reading readiness test," Huang said. "On average, the more letters children can recognize and identify at an early age, the better their future reading achievement and the lower the risk of academic failure. Learning letter names can help with learning letter sounds, which benefits overall reading skills. In the study, the effect of preschool attendance on letter name knowledge was both large and practically meaningful."

"While this study focused on alphabet recognition, children also learn many other important skills in preschool, such as math and socioemotional skills," Huang said. "Though this is just one piece of the puzzle, it does help show how valuable preschool education can be for child development. Many experts generally agree that early intervention can be more successful and cost effective compared to future remediation. Kindergarten teachers should be able to differentiate their instruction in order to meet the needs of students who may begin school with differing ability levels."

First published: 17 November 2016, 2:33 IST