The stakes are high for kids

Learning through play at PIC

a monthly message from Deb Green

February 2020

I doubt you need to be reminded that 2020 is an election year where the stakes are high on all fronts, especially for our children.

I recently came across an article about a bill that was introduced in Florida to include an A-F school grading system for preschools. This illustrates the high stakes that I am talking about and is being considered in several states across the country.

The bill, which is still under consideration, includes financial awards for “high performing preschools” and intensive reading interventions for children who exhibit “a substantial deficiency in early literacy.” 

Early childhood experts have reminded Florida legislators that preschool should be about play, collaboration, and important social and emotional lessons, as confirmed by research time and time again. This is the foundation that children at PIC receive, and is integral to high quality early childhood education (ECE) experiences that all children across the country deserve.

In my own professional career, I have never seen such attention focussed on the importance of high quality early childhood education. Everyone, on both sides of the aisle, seems to understand that children who attend high-quality ECE programs are less likely to be placed in special education or retained in a grade, and are more likely to graduate from high school than their peers who didn’t attend such programs.

There is ever increasing evidence that social-emotional skills play a strong role in supporting children’s ability to engage in learning environments, manage their own behaviors, and get along well with others. This is the high quality start that will allow all children to reach their fullest potential in school and through life.

Yet, there continues to be a movement that steers away from play-based programs like PIC, and their positive impact on socio-emotional growth. We need policy makers to understand the vast divide that exists between teaching “academics” through drills followed by inappropriate testing of young children, and giving children readiness skills through hands-on and developmentally-appropriate activities.

The Florida proposal is a serious call to action. We must be clear that it is only high quality early childhood education--not just any early childhood education--that will yield the economic benefits to society that make it indisputably a worthwhile investment.

I am once again part of a team of early educators attending the NAEYC Public Policy conference in Washington, DC this month. We are fortunate that Pennsylvania has a powerful team ready to meet with members of Congress to educate and advance federal and state early childhood policy. I look forward to honing my own advocacy skills and bringing back resources to PIC parents and caregivers, alumni families, friends, and our generous supporters.

Making informed decisions will matter more than ever in this year’s election. I urge you all to pay close attention to what the candidates are proposing. Every. Vote. Will. Count.

Thank you for believing in PIC.