When you read research about preschool keep in mind the most of it is about very low-income kids. Preschool is not important for academic preparation or socialization. Preschool is important because it provides a nurturing environment where children can play while their parents are working.
Kids who have a nurturing environment at home, with a parent, do better in life. That’s right. In all of life. That’s how much more beneficial it is to be with a parent than a caregiver from 0-3.
The higher quality of childcare the less negative impact it has on a child. However this correlation is mitigated by the number of hours per day the child is in day care and the number of years as well. Which is to say that even if the childcare is the best possible quality the negative impact on the child’s cognitive abilities extends to age 15.
So rich families should ask themselves: why preschool? The answer, I think, is that in order to get into fancy schools in NYC, SF and LA kids need to go to fancy preschool to get recommendations. So parents in other cities think rich people need to send kids to preschool.
In that vein, this is a letter that a reader shared with me from their very expensive preschool. The letter arrived in August 2020 and perfectly encapsulates the true value of an upscale preschool:
I would like to begin by thanking those who have confirmed their children’s enrollment for our 2020–2021 school year. As I have repeatedly said in my many emails over the past months, my greatest concern is for the health and wellbeing of your children and my staff.
[Blah blah blah safety]
Because of this pandemic, options have become available for your children’s education with the new explosion in home schooling options, most notably “pod schools”.
The concept of keeping your child at home and protected from the outside world is an inviting one, but the realities of pod schooling are not as simple… First, the obvious risk, keeping covid-19/coronavirus out of the group. Who takes responsibility, who enforces rules, how does that play into your social life and possibly the friendships you and your children have within the pod if coronavirus makes its way in, and odds are it may? Who is scrubbing and cleaning the pod environment and who takes responsibility, does it move from house to house? The second, and maybe not as obvious a risk, just who are your teachers, what are their qualifications?
[Blah blah your pod is terrible]
And finally, what happens when the family applies to kindergarten? How do independent schools weigh the readiness of a child who was educated outside the system, who writes the children’s evaluations and how do the kindergarten admissions directors weigh an evaluation written by a paid employee? And OMG, what happens to those pod families when one child may get into a first choice school and others may not get into any independent schools at all?
[Blah blah end with niceties so you forget scare tactics]
Thank you again for trusting us with your children. I am here should you need anything.