DENVER – President Barack Obama went on the road this week to promote his plans to improve early childhood education – outlining the details at an Atlanta preschool Thursday.
The White House is seeking a major expansion of pre-K education, including increased access to Head Start, guaranteed preschool for four-year-olds from low-income families, and expanded Nurse Family Partnerships for low-income expectant mothers.
Gladys Wilson, president and CEO of Qualistar Colorado, an early childhood education group, says increasing access to preschool education is important, but even more important is the type of education children get.
“Young children tend to be at different stages of development,” she says. “So you have to be able to know how to address all those unique qualities around children and meet them where they are. ”
Wilson offers a list of things parents should look for in good preschools – trained teachers, an environment that encourages family involvement, and a minimum of one teacher for every 10 students in a pre-school. She says time for play is important, because it helps children learn social interaction and cooperation skills.
Wilson adds that not every child has the same interests or abilities. She says parents should be involved in their children’s education – and have realistic expectations.
“Knowing what’s appropriate for children is something parents certainly need to know and understand, and so do staff,” she says. “And if we do that we’re going to be able to meet those children’s needs. ”
The president’s proposal would create a state and federal partnership, guaranteeing preschool to children from families making up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level. And it would provide competitive funds so states can expand their Head Start programs.