Nadler: School District considers full-time preschool programs

The Iowa City School District moves in the right direction with its announced hope of building three new full-time preschools.


Michael Guhin

The Iowa City Community School District sign is seen on Nov. 5, 2018

Zohar Nadler, Opinions Columnist

Officials recently announced that the Iowa City School District  is considering adding three full-time preschool programs to the district because 25 percent  of entering kindergarteners do not or cannot attend preschool. As of now, the School District offers half-day preschool programs, which could be a contributing factor to the 25 percent of future kindergarteners who do not attend preschool. I commend the School District for considering reformation to the preschool programs. I believe full-time preschool will not only be more convenient for working parents, it will also be more beneficial for the children in our district.

Currently, the School District’s half-day preschool programs are offered in the morning and the afternoon. While the choice of morning or afternoon preschool program grants parents a preference, enrolling children in preschool is still difficult for parents who work full-time and cannot leave to transport their children in the middle of the day. Through my few years of experience at a local before- and after-school program, I understand the necessity parents have for full-day childcare that can dovetail with their work schedule.

RELATED: School District mulls constructing three full-time preschools

The district would like to add three additional preschools in Iowa City, Coralville, and North Liberty. These preschools will offer half-a-day of preschool and half-a-day of childcare services. With this program, the district hopes to increase the number of kindergarteners who attend preschool.

It’s a relief to see the School District is genuinely concerned about the 25 percent of students who could not attend preschool because of its inconvenient timing. While preschool is not mandatory, it does offer perks for early childhood education and long-term cognitive benefits.

RELATED: Nadler: ICCSD, these children are not just numbers

For instance, the Brookings Institute found that there are great cognitive outcomes for children who attend preschool. It  reported that children who attend preschool showed a 53 percent increase in letter-word recognition as opposed to children who did not attend preschool. In the U.S. school system, we are taught to learn by reading. If one can read well, then one can learn better. An increase in letter-word recognition increases children’s ability to recognize words instantly, which could improve their reading skills further on.

Not only would offering full days of merged preschool and childcare allow young children to obtain the preschool education they need, it will benefit the parents who work during the day and rely on childcare assistance. Perhaps the offer of a full-time preschool program would allow children of lower socioeconomic backgrounds the opportunity to attend preschool while their parents work during the day.

RELATED: UI Family Services strives to relieve stress of parenting on busy lives

It is my hope that the School District follows through on its idea of opening three full-time preschool programs. The number of kindergarteners who do not attend preschool is concerning and must be seen as something that is urgent, necessary, and crucial to fund.

Early childhood education is vital and should be more convenient for the 25 percent of students who miss the preschool opportunity. Moreover, parents should not have to reject preschool for their children because it conflicts with their work schedule. If this proposal is pursued, I hope to see a decrease in the number of students who do not attend preschool but rather, are  offered a fair chance at early childhood education.