Preschool Makes for Happier Adults, Study Finds

Filed under: In The News, Weird But True

Preschool Makes for Happier Adults

These girls must have gone to preschool! Credit: Getty Images

Children who went to preschool 25 years ago are better off as adults because of it.

They are better educated and make more money than their peers who put off school until kindergarten. Preschool graduates are also less likely abuse drugs or become criminals. They work and play well with others, use their inside voices and almost never run with scissors.

What's more, they're more likely to have fancy luxury items like health insurance coverage.

All this is the conclusion of researchers at the University of Minnesota in a study that concludes preschool is aaawesome!

"These effects haven't been found before for public programs, so the findings are encouraging to provide access to high-quality programs through public funding for kids at risk," lead researcher Arthur J. Reynolds, a professor in the university's Institute of Child Development, tells U.S. News & World Report.

The magazine reports researchers found preschool especially beneficial for boys and children from high-risk or poor families.

Reynolds and his team tracked 1,386 children -- 989 of them enrolled in a Chicago preschool from 1983 to 1989.

All the children went to full-day kindergarten and received social services. Fifteen percent of the control group attended Head Start. The rest were cared for at home.

Reynolds tells U.S. News & World Report the particular preschool in the study succeeded because kids were enrolled when they were 3 so they get more participation in the program.

"We know that the amount of time in the program is associated with gains," he tells the magazine.

Because this particular preschool was run by local schools, the teachers were certified in early childhood education. That's not true in a lot of preschools, Reynolds cautioned.

"Because it's a school-based, there is continuing access to services, and kids stay in the same environment through elementary school," he adds. "It promotes positive transitions from one grade to the next."

Hooray for one Chicago preschool in the early '80s, says Andrew J. Coulson, the director of the Cato Institute's Center for Educational Freedom. However, a snapshot of one preschool 25 years ago is not enough to support researchers' recommendation for more government-funded preschools, he tells the magazine.

"While a few specific pre-K programs seem to have had lasting impacts, they appear to be exceptions rather than the rule," he adds.

"More specifically, the federal government's efforts to scale-up the success of those particular programs, over four decades and at very great cost, have not proven effective. Yet another study pointing to the effect of one of the three pre-K programs that did have lasting effects does not alter that picture."

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