The duration of center-based care matters: the greatest academic beneﬁt is found for those children who start at ages 2–3 rather than at younger or older ages (Loeb, et al., 2007).
How much time should children be required to spend in Pre-K (if at all)?
Cognitive Effects: Among children with multiple years of preschool, earlier exposure general leads to higher cognitive gains. But, particularly for higher-income children, those gains generally stop with thirty hours of preschool per week.
Social-Emotional Effects: Earlier exposure, at higher intensity, can have negative social effects. At least one major study has evaluated pre-k hours of service not only on children’s cognitive gains but also on social-emotional effects. The study found the following:
The Half-Day Option: Parent work-schedules and increased demands of K-12 education have prompted greater interest in full-day services, but based on the research half day is a strong option. For most state-funded pre-k programs, a half day translates into 2 to 3.5 hours of service per day, four or five days per week. (Center for Public Education, 2007)
Even slight standardization will enable Livingston Promise to more efficiently match prospective scholarship recipients with quality programs. The following recommendations are based on that assumption:
Recommendation 1: Based on existing research, consider requiring at least 12, but no more than 32 hours of preschool per week.
Recommendation 2: At the beginning of the program, require parents to make two key decisions for fulfilling that requirement, with funding distributed to programs accordingly. (Great Start Kent County, 2013)
Recommendation 3: To further refine the requirement, considering providing a short survey to families eligible for the scholarship, requesting information on what would be the best options for them. At the end of the pilot, survey participant families for additional feedback.
Center for Public Education. (2007). Pre-Kindergarten: What the Research Shows. Retrieved from http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Pre-kindergarten/Pre-Kindergarten/Pre-kindergarten-What-the-research-shows.html#sthash.JBNYcXId.dpuf.
Early Learning Technical Workgroup. (2011). Washington Preschool Program: Increasing Access and Outcomes. Retrieved from http://www.k12.wa.us/legisgov/2011documents/Preschool_Nov11.pdf.
Great Start Kent County. (2013). Early Childhood Scholarship Family Application. Retrieved from http://www.firststepskent.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Year-2013-2014-Childcare-Scholarship-Application-Updated-04-26-13.pdf.
Loeb, S., Bridges, M., Bassok, D., Fuller, B., Rumberger, R. (2007). How much is too much? The Influence of Preschool Centers on Children’s Social and Cognitive Development? Economics of Education Review, 52-66.