Why Kindergarten Matters glenda gerde

Education is a crucial part of a child’s development, so much so that it is illegal to not send your child to school until they’re old enough to legally make their own decisions. However, in many states, children are only required to begin attending school at the first grade level, meaning that many children aren’t attending kindergarten. While the importance of kindergarten has been widely debated, there are certain undeniable benefits that attending kindergarten can have for your life.

Attending kindergarten can help you later in life.

One of the long-standing cases against kindergarten was that, while kindergarten can have huge short-term impacts on a child’s development, by the time the child reaches high school, he or she does, typically, no better or worse than a child who didn’t attend kindergarten. However, aside from how it impacted education, the long-term benefits of kindergarten were never studied until 2011 when Raj Chetty, a Harvard economist, decided to conduct a study. His argument in support was that success cannot be measured in the classroom setting alone. Chetty’s logic was that  “We don’t really care about test scores. We care about adult outcomes,” so he looked at 11,571 different subjects and the impact that attending kindergarten had on their futures beyond school. The study found that children who receive quality kindergarten education are more likely to go to college, save better for retirement, and earn more money in adulthood.

In kindergarten, children build the foundation for their education.

Yes, the math, reading, writing, and science skills that children learn in kindergarten will all be taught to them again and consistently reinforced throughout their education. However, kindergarten is the time when these skills are all first introduced and explored, building the foundation for the future of their education. While a year may not make a difference in how well a child grasps a certain concept, introducing it earlier will get their brains moving and get them started in analytical thinking even earlier.

Kindergarten helps students develop in other areas.

While the educational lessons that kindergarteners learn are important to their development, the most important lessons taught at this level are the social and emotional ones. Children spend their entire educational careers learning about their subjects of study, but kindergarten is a foundational introduction to working with others cooperatively.  In kindergarten, children are learning how to respect and work with and for figures of authority, experience following directions toward positive outcomes, experiment with choosing their own relationships/friendships, practice the value of choosing right over wrong, and experience the importance of respecting the emotions and thoughts of others.  A new self-awareness begins within the group setting, and sharing, as well as a whole host of other skills that are crucial to development have an opportunity to be explored and nurtured. Kindergarten is a well-planned learning environment where children may learn to trust others outside of their family to begin a journey of confidence and meaning about their place in our world, because it “takes a village.”

All of the advantages gained from a kindergarten experience have potential for deeper meaning when the child has been supported in  a great preschool opportunity.