Kids who attend high-quality preschool programs show significant progress in early skills development that set them up for future academic performance. The first years are a critical period during which a child's brain is strongly impacted by the environment and experience.

“Oftentimes, when children attend high-quality and effective Pre-K programs, they get a really great boost in early skills that set them up for success in elementary school,” says Michael Little, Ph.D., an assistant Professor at a NC State College of Education, who studies, in particular, the connections between preschool and early elementary grades.

Decades of research have shown the many benefits of preschool, including a study that started in the 1960s. The children who attended the program demonstrated positive outcomes in the long term - such as better health and lower risk of being incarcerated - than their peers who did not attend preschool.

However, Little thinks that more can be done to help kids sustain the academic gains they can make in preschool, like improving alignment between preschool and the K-12 school system. The goal is to prevent the so-called "Pre-K fadeout," a phenomenon according to which the early advantages obtained in preschool can wear away in elementary school.

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