Thomasville Times Enterprise

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March 28, 2014

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Check pre-K for yourself

I read with interest Matt Mackowiak’s article “Government agrees that Head Start is a failure” just as our Georgia government released phase two of the Pre-K Longitudinal Study by FPG Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that shows, “participation in Georgia’s pre-K program significantly improves school readiness skills across key domains of learning.”

“The findings concerning literacy are especially important as they suggest that foundational reading skills are taught in Georgia’s pre-K classrooms,” announced Susan Adams, Assistant Commissioner for Pre-K.

Haven’t you found that you can find evidence to support any opinion you have if you look hard enough? Next time you read a report on early education impact, I suggest you put it down and visit your local pre-K classroom to see for yourself. Inside you will find 6½ hours of instructional time, hands-on, cooperative, researched-based activities that develop higher-level thinking skills, fine and gross motor skills practice, as well as character  and creativity development. This is a place where last week you heard, “Shut up, you meanie head!” but now you hear, “I don’t like it when you do that. Please don’t do it again,” or “No, that’s not a spider, it’s an insect. Remember how we magnified him and counted his legs?”

A place where we discuss the organs of the body (and, yes, they can name and locate them) through song and rhyme so when we are confronted with the choice of smoking,  students will remember “the heart is like a pump, the heart is like a pump, pumping blood to help you grow, the heart is like a pump!” (Bryson and Vezzuto, The Anatomy Apron) and how we couldn’t squeeze that red balloon as easy when it was filled with mud (tar) instead of good clean air. A place where four year olds independently line up for water as Asia takes it upon herself to count sips in Spanish to seven so it “will be fair to everybody.” Or the place where last week when you played the shape game, less than half the class stood up with their square when we sang, “squares stand up,” but this week students jumped up waving their triangle, circle and squares at the appropriate time. A place where we learn to sort and count using multi-colored goldfish and decide if the shark would want more or less by opening his mouth  “>” to the greater than side and fly swatters dipped in paint swoop, making bold splashes of color on large strips of paper and sounds of ‘ “Look out, I’m creating!” float in the air.

Common sense tells me that reading and discussing literature, exploring and asking open ended questions, finding answers using simple scientific equipment and learning concepts through hands-on, researchbased, individually planned lessons can in no way be “a failure” or  non-effective no matter what age you are. But don’t just trust me, the certified teacher who daily monitors and updates her student’s progress on class checklists and individual profiles for 49 standards, come see for yourself. Better yet, read the study on Georgia’s Department of Early Care and Learning’s website at  www.decal.ga.gov. I believe you will see that Georgia is doing a lot to give all of our kids a chance!

Julie Spence

Georgia pre-K teacher

 

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