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Kids Who Won Free Pre-School Ended Up Losing

A researcher who spent 10 years following 3000 kids who applied to get free pre-school in Tennessee discovered the opposite of what she’d expected: The ones who got in — demographically identical to the ones who didn’t — were doing worse all around by 6th grade.

Worse on tests. Worse on discipline. Worse when it came to being diagnosed with learning difficulties — that is, the pre-k kids had developed more of them.

Over at Let Grow (here) I talk about what the researcher herself believes may be the problem with a pre-k program deliberately designed to boost underprivileged kids, and what Let Grow co-founder Dr. Peter Gray thinks was going on.

Gray says this Tennessee experiment mirrors a huge randomized trial Germany ran in the ’70s. Only too late are we learning what the Germans learned 50 years ago: Too much time spent on academics too young is not giving kids enough chance to explore, discover and come to love learning. Maybe, in fact, they come to hate it.

The antidote? Give kids more free play.

Which you probably guessed. Come on — we’ve been talking about that for years. So, read all about it here. (While you send your kids out to you-know-what.)

2 Responses to Kids Who Won Free Pre-School Ended Up Losing

  1. Reziac February 17, 2022 at 2:12 pm #

    This is, unfortunately, not at all surprising. The biggest thing early just-being-a-kid develops is that insatiable need to know how things work that becomes desire to learn later on.

    Being taught that “Water is wet” is not at all the same thing as wondering, “Why is water wet?”

  2. Kenny Felder February 17, 2022 at 4:56 pm #

    I’ve been hearing this from Waldorf teachers for decades. It’s great to see a large-scale study confirming it! And just so you know, I posted a link (to the LetGrow article) on my Facebook, and quite a few people have “Liked” and “Shared” it. Doing my best to spread the word, because it’s a word well worth spreading!!!