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October 26, 2011

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Home » Feature » Education

Pre-school helps kids

MANY people in China now believe the children of wealthy families, known as the "second rich generation," can always get good jobs ahead of those from less-privileged families.

Children from these "have not" families are complaining they are being judged by society on their family background rather than their ability.

However, Kathy Sylva, professor of educational psychology at University of Oxford, is telling people that what parents do with their children every day is more important than how much money they have.

She said what really helps children is the daily activities, such as the books parents and children read together, the paintings they draw together at home and things they do together on weekends, such as science museum visits or trips to the park.

Though parents' education and salaries influence their children's education, the time they spend with their children is more important than their social demographic factors. Some wealthy parents may spend little time with their children due to demanding work schedules, which is not ideal for their children's development.

Sylva delivered a speech about the lasting impact pre-school has on a child's development to teachers at the Yew Chung International School of Shanghai on October 17.

She also said that a mother's education background is more powerful in a child's early development.

Some of her other major research conclusions include: Pre-school attendance (irrespective of quality) was associated with better scores in English and mathematics, but this did not lead to better progress in years 3-6.

There was evidence of the importance of pre-school quality for progress: for English and math, children who attended high-quality pre-schools made greater progress between years 3-6 compared to "home" children.

This suggests that high-quality pre-school not only provides children with an initial boost to their scholastic career, but also helps promote accelerated learning by fostering children's capacity to learn.


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