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Importance of the CKN Mission

Published from the executive director's desk.

Why Children's Kindness Network focuses on Pre-K

Providing America's children with a quality pre-k education can directly reduce the number of adult lawbreakers in the future. The High/Scope Perry Study concluded that the risk of becoming a chronic lawbreaker as an adult is five times greater for children without access to high-quality preschool education.

An August 9, 2007 Wall Street Journal article entitled, As States Tackle Poverty, Preschool Gets High Marks, stated, "The movement [pre-k funding] represents one of the most significant expansions in public education in the 90 years since World War I."

Thirty-six states will fund pre-k in 2008, compared to only 15 states in 2005. Arthur Rolnick, Director of Research for the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, remembers telling a pro-education organization that while pre-k was certainly a moral issue, it was not a business matter. However, after conducting research on the subject, Rolnick concluded he was wrong. Pre-k is a business matter. Today's young children are tomorrow's employees and tomorrow's criminals.

An Argument for Preschool: Newsweek Interview: Jan 3, 2008
"In the 1970 and '80s, the notion that three and four year olds should be taught in classrooms was a provocative idea. Today 40 states spend about $4.8 billion a year providing schooling for preschoolers. Although a bill to create universal preschool in California recently faltered, state legislators across the country are finding that preschool—which has been associated with higher rates of high-school graduation and, later in life, employment—is a good investment. Last month, as Sen. Ted Kennedy looked on, President Bush signed a bill into law that expanded Head Start, which provides early education for poor children. In his book "The Sandbox Investment: The Preschool Movement and Kids-First Politics" (Harvard University Press), author David Kirp, a professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley, explains the importance of keeping educational quality high for our littlest learners.

David Kirp: "What's driving it is the good long-term research that shows that if a child goes to preschool they will have a higher income, are less likely to be involved in crime, more likely to graduate from college and have happier lives. There is also brain science that has shown the incredible importance of brain development in the earliest years."

See Complete article: http://www.newsweek.com/id/83832

The Importance of Kindness Education (Social Emotional)

In developing a culture of kindness, emphasis is placed on the social-emotional values which develop kind behavior. Does the classroom help the child better understand his/her feelings, thus better understanding other's feelings? Such understanding of feelings is critical in developing empathy, which is a key factor in reducing bullying and violence.

Pre-k education is more than just the cognitive skills of reading and writing. With the implementation of No Child Left Behind and today's focus on academic studies, it is easy to overlook the social-emotional skills. As reported in Scholastic Magazine, "Some research shows that the quality of a child's social skills by age five accurately predicts social and academic competence in later years." A January 2007 report from the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) stated, "Children in preschool where only the cognitive areas are emphasized actually developed a more dysfunctional behavior; however, when combined with social-emotional emphasis as well, the challenging behavior was not evident."

The Summer 2006 Carnegie Results stated, "The most promising findings indicate that the real benefits come from nurturing non-cognitive skills-social, emotional and behavioral competencies that lead to success in later life-and that positive effects are stronger when programs begin early because initial improvements help students gain additional skills at the next stage of development." The teachers in later grades appreciate having students that do not require constant discipline. Yes, we can say that such discipline training should be done at home, but in reality, many times it is not. This is true for both the rich and the poor.

In working with pre-k children, we have seen their interest in learning-cognitive and social-emotional. By the age of five, children's brains are 90% wired. Their brains are like sponges. It takes a team, parents, teachers and other concerned adults-to keep any sponge (child's brain) from going to waste. The team must assure that these sponges are filled with the right stuff.

From Newsweek, Jan 3, 2008 "...in this environment, with No Child Left Behind, there is a hyper emphasis on numeracy and literacy at the expense of other aspects of learning. They worry about what will happen to their kids when they get to school, and so they put pressure on them early. But that's a mistake. Before kids can learn, they need to have experiences being social, regulating their emotions, to play in groups. Those are all important lessons too.


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