Quality Preschool: Key to a Good Start in Life

Education funding is being slashed across California, and preschool-aged children could fall through the cracks. Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP) is working to fix the problem.

Monday, Sep 16, 2013  |  Updated 7:41 AM PDT
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Quality Preschool: Key to a Good Start in Life

Since 2005, the LAUP has provided funding and professional development training to preschool programs across Los Angeles County.

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This article is sponsored by Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP), a nonprofit network of more than 300 preschool sites that is working to boost education for four-year-olds in and around LA. County. Click here to learn more about LAUP. 

As we all know, there are no shortcuts in education. Effective learning requires hard work.

Therefore, to ensure the future success of our country's students, it's vital they start on the right foot from a young age. A comprehensive preschool education lays the necessary base foundation a child needs to reach their full potential, from their academics to their career.

Unfortunately, this vital stage in a child's development is being neglected in many states across the country, which immediately puts our children at a life-long disadvantage. Right here in California, budget cuts have slashed early childhood education funding across the state, sending the state's total spending on pre-kindergarten students plummeting from 13th in the nation in 2011 to 16th in 2012. According to a recent study, approximately 30,000 preschool-aged children in Los Angeles County alone did not attend preschool last year. And perhaps unsurprisingly, low-income families have been hardest hit.

Rather than let these children fall through the cracks, Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP) is working to curb the problem. Founded in 2005, the LAUP provides funding and professional development training to preschool programs across Los Angeles County, enabling hundreds of thousands of four-year-old children to obtain a preschool education at little or no cost to their families.

While the benefits of an effective preschool education are both many and far reaching, from better mathematic and social skills to a more robust economy, the tenets are strong and simple. Vital requirements include:

  • A small teacher to child ratio
  • Constant teacher and child interactions
  • Opportunities for children to develop their critical thinking skills
  • Opportunities for children to participate in hands-on activities
  • Teachers who understands their role in the development of a child
  • The education level of the teacher
Education experts like Celia C. Ayala, chief executive officer of LAUP, believe that young children who receive educational stimulation will inevitably perform better in elementary school and beyond. Building a foundation of learning at a young age, she said, helps students learn the skills and focus to achieve in school and later life.

"We need children to participate in a positive learning environment while getting ready for kindergarten, regardless of their parents' financial situation, because their future success in life depends on it."

And it works: Students enrolled in LAUP programs are performing well above the national average. Studies show that students who participated in LAUP programs surpassed the national average in math skills by two points, and English language learning students enrolled in LAUP programs regularly outperformed their English-speaking peers nationally. While 85% of American preschoolers exhibited an attention level required for kindergarten, 99% of LAUP students reached that level of attention. In a recognition test for letters in the alphabet, LAUP students improved from 12 letters to 18 letters in just one year, compared to the national average of 10 letters.

“I see how getting my daughter involved in preschool helps with her social and motor skills,” says south LA mother of two Kay Mangum.  “If kids aren’t ready, they’ll fall behind and we should all do what we can to support them."

For more information about quality preschool, visit www.laup.net or call 866-675-5400 to locate an LAUP program in your neighborhood.

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