Why are high-quality preschool and kindergartens beneficial for children living in poverty in the United States?

Cortney L. Navarchi

Psychology of Achievement, Northern Arizona University

            A myriad of research suggests introducing quality education to those in poverty may reduce emotional and physical delays (Rocheleau, 2019). A child’s ability to learn is often hindered when their basic needs, such as food, clothing, etc., are not met, thus preventing their brains from developing properly. Research shows that poverty changes the way children’s brains develop, shrinking parts of the brain essential for memory, planning, and decision-making (Rocheleau, 2019). Providing an enriching environment gives them a chance to develop physically, socially, and mentally. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is an excellent representation. Starting at the bottom of the pyramid, you have Physiological needs (air, water, food, shelter, sleep, clothing) and Safety needs (personal security, resources) which categorizes as a deficiency. The ability to achieve an education is impossible without fulfilling these necessities. Therefore, having quality preschools and kindergartens for children to fulfill those needs would allow them to concentrate on their learning rather than the resources they need to obtain.

Unfortunately, the programs needed for these children to thrive are not being provided for as they should. Some articles suggest that politicians need tangible evidence that correlates the cause and effect of the subject or blame it on authorization caps. Looking into the political side, you can see a hidden agenda with America’s budget and crisis. A majority of our money goes to our military. For school decisions, it trickles down to state legislation. Of course, more funding should be provided for all schools, especially ESE backgrounds, but the corruption in office makes it nearly impossible. The entire American school system is outdated and places students at a disadvantage. Students who enroll at the same time as their younger peers will have more opportunities and be placed in higher-level ability groups—starting a cycle of cumulative advantage and more opportunities for achievement and success (Gladwell, 2009). America’s education system was developed in the 1700s and was initially designed for the industrial working man. For poverty-stricken areas, resources, updated information, and proper supplies are not being provided. Funding is being deferred to different country regions, and the financial crisis is beyond simply giving more money to preschools.

Schools in the top quartile of student poverty would need to spend 46 percent more to meet these students’ needs. And because of long-standing neighborhood segregation and systemic racism, these high-poverty schools serve primarily Black and Latinx students, presenting a serious equity problem (Hahnel, 2020).

Contributing funding for children of low socio-economic backgrounds to attend quality preschools and kindergartens may prevent developmental delays and give them an advantage over their peers. Additional studies provided for state-level legislation have a higher chance of providing more funding towards quality educational programs. The current funding throughout America is not enough to provide the education needed for poverty-stricken families and their children. Though there are many upriver battles to fight to get the proper financing, early education, in the long run, will have a significant impact on how these children develop and perform in the future.