Educators and school administrators alike have an important question on their minds, “Where did all the preschoolers go?” While that is, of course, a rhetorical question with a simple answer, the issues that are likely to arise as a result of historically low preschool, pre-kindergarten, and kindergarten enrollment are certainly more complex.
Schools are now tasked with finding ways to accelerate the learning process for their early learners in an effort to help our children catch up to the expected standards of their age level. If unsuccessful, the resulting lack of essential skills may pose an even bigger challenge in years to come. The enrollment problem that schools are now faced with is no one’s fault, but solutions must be found.
Many parents have opted out of sending their children to early childhood programs due to the inherent risks associated with close social contact and other COVID-19 related issues. Other factors, such as stay at home orders, shuttered preschools and kindergartens, and the lack of a unified approach among the nation’s policymakers have also played roles in exacerbating this current reality.
Risks of Missing Too Much School
For preschool and pre-kindergarten students who have yet to transition to a traditional school environment, there are many challenges and milestones that still await them. The various risks associated with children missing too much school are among the many challenges that educators now face.
Finding ways to include human contact, both in a live and virtual environment, is one of those challenges. Children of preschool age require a significant number of contact hours with their teachers and classmates to be able to reach various developmental milestones that are normally included in a preschool program.
Many parents have done very well to homeschool their children or to participate in remote learning through a preschool program. However, not every family has the experience, resources, or time necessary to provide their children with an education that matches one found in a dedicated pre-kindergarten environment.
Many of the important skillsets and developmental milestones that young learners need, including those related to social and emotional development, language and communication, reading and writing, mathematics, science, social studies, art, and physical development, must be offered for a program to be successful.
Without access to a diverse and tailored learning program, many students will lack the necessary skills to be successful in a classroom environment. To mitigate the risks associated with missing a preschool education, a curriculum should be offered that helps accelerate learner growth, whether that course of study is applied online or in person.
Accelerated Learning for Pre-K Students
Schools and teachers now tasked with the challenge of playing catchup to mitigate learning loss and gaps with their Pre-K students must find ways to present the various subject and developmental areas to their learners. The content must be scaffolded to enable stronger growth across the student body, and each of the skill areas should provide opportunities for engagement and differentiation.
Many models exist for speeding up the learning process once the preschool experience returns to a state of normalcy, but not all have been able to bridge the gap between the classroom and a virtual environment. What is most needed are programs that are intended for distance learning and classroom application in mind.
One example of a Pre-K program available today is QuaverEd Pre-K. Quaver Pre-K's program is available in digital format with engaging hands-on materials for students including puppets, card decks, manipulatives, and more! Quaver Pre-K's full day curriculum enables teachers to provide continued education, no matter the learning environment. Whether children end up staying home for another year or are able to come back to school within the next few weeks or months, choosing a curriculum product that caters to both scenarios is one way to overcome the hurdles that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to our young students.
Our youngest children will have to catch up in many areas once they return to school. Teachers can help ease that process using tools designed for diversified, well-balanced approaches, such as the program, QuaverEd Pre-K. Using the right set of tools, educators at the pre-kindergarten level will be able to help their learners build the various skill areas that students require for their personal and academic growth. Whether our students access their education in a live or virtual setting, the same solid learning path should be available to every child. Choosing the right set of tools, therefore, is an essential part of the catch-up process.