Are there really benefits to Pre-K education? - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Are there really benefits to Pre-K education?

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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EAST MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

It seems there isn't a question about the benefits of pre-K education in Memphis. The question lies with how to fund the program.

Terri McLain, Roulhac's Preschool and Childcare director, said for 35 years she's seen the difference it can make, from stronger social skills to higher reading levels.

What simply looks like a bunch of 3-year-olds at play is actually a basic level of learning.

For 18 years Lori Cox has molded the minds of young children. She says even at age 3, children can learn what it takes to be successful academically.

"This little pincher grip is very important for their numbers," she said. "They're not just things that you say or see. Numbers are for counting, grouping; that kind of thing and letters are not just things in a song, but they are the building blocks of words when you put them together they make words."

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Cox said children are learning even simple tasks, such as sitting, listening and sharing.

Part of the benefit of preschool is what is not always obvious in the beginning, but children are developing social skills, independence, and interacting with other children.

"They can read through pictures, pictures tell stories and they learn that the words with the pictures in the books are telling them something," McLain said.

As a director for 35 years in early childhood education, McLain says children use to learn all of the basics in kindergarten, but it's no longer the case.

"Now they expect you to know that before you come in so a child that's not exposed to that is at a disadvantage," she said. "They're going to struggle. It's going to be harder for them to succeed in kindergarten."

McLain said a child with the fundamentals usually has higher reading and math scores and perform better on standardized tests. Cox said even at this age, they increase their recognition skills two-fold.

"We start working on letters just because we want them to know what each letter is made up of different shapes," Cox said. "It makes different sounds, they're the building blocks of words."

Cox said pre-K is just the first brush stroke to education. She says what looks like child's play, is really the foundation to a child's educational success.

Even though research shows benefits of pre-K, more than 75-percent of 3- and 4-year-olds don't have access to state funded pre-K programs.

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