Parents and educators are scrambling to make sense of the newest findings from the K-12 education community.
While it’s clear that children are learning to juggle multiple activities in their busy schedules, the most surprising thing is the degree to which homework is actually a part of kindergarten.
According to a recent paper by researchers at Duke University, students are learning more than twice as many math and reading problems in kindergarten as in the previous year.
This new study also showed that students who are more likely to complete their homework before school start times are more successful at getting through the year.
The paper, “The Role of Preschool Activities in Kindergarten,” is the first to provide evidence for the theory that preschool activities such as playing games, reading, and writing help students complete their education in a timely fashion.
The researchers found that preschool games are more effective than play dates, homework assignments, or standardized testing, all of which can interfere with academic achievement.
“Our study suggests that preschool can provide early learning opportunities that help students learn in a way that is beneficial to their academic performance,” says lead author and developmental psychologist Sarah Koehler, a research assistant professor at Duke.
“Preschool activities, whether they are games or written or spoken or spoken aloud, have the potential to help improve student outcomes.”
In the current paper, Koehlens and her colleagues analyzed data from more than 10,000 children who attended kindergarten in six states over a 12-year period.
They were able to find that parents spent a total of $5.7 billion on preschool activities in kindergarten in 2013.
But how did the money come about?
In the first part of the paper, they explored the ways that the preschool industry, particularly private preschools, might be contributing to the growth of homework.
For instance, the preschool sector spends money on many things other than instruction.
Some of these include: advertising, food, and toys.
According to the latest data from the National Center for Education Statistics, nearly 1 in 3 children attend preschool, and preschoolers spend over two hours of their day in the classroom.
They also spend nearly two hours per day on social activities.
And parents may spend more time with their children than ever before, particularly if they’re parents with preschool-aged children.
Parents who spend time with preschoolers also spend more money on preschool-related expenses, such as preschool supplies, snacks, and clothing.
One of the researchers in the paper even found that the majority of parents spend their time with children who are in kindergarten, and many of these parents also spend time at school.
According the researchers, preschool teachers spend more than 40 percent of their time at preschool, while many preschool teachers are also teachers and students themselves.
The researchers found a similar pattern in the study they conducted.
According “The role of preschool activities” by Koehls, parents spend about 40 percent on preschool, but a significant amount of that time is spent on reading and writing, and this study suggests parents spend more on these activities than other types of preschool time.
In addition, according to Koehnels research, many parents do not realize that they’re spending more on preschool than other activities.
According a survey of more than 2,400 preschool parents conducted by the Association of Special Education Providers, parents are aware of the importance of reading and math, but are unaware that they are spending more than 20 percent of the time on other activities, like music and recess.
These results also suggest that preschool is becoming a more important part of a child’s education than parents realize.
According to the researchers who conducted the study, this is the third time that preschool has been linked to academic achievement in preschoolers.
“It has become an important part and one of the primary elements of learning,” Koehmens says.
“When it’s not, we’re not getting a good education.”
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