Parental Notions of School Readiness: How Have They Changed and Has Preschool Made a Difference?*


Despite their obvious importance, little attention has been paid to how parents view school readiness. This paper examines school readiness from the parental perspective, examining their efforts and expectations for kindergarten in conjunction with their child’s development. Using data from two waves of the National Household Education Surveys, we test for changes in school readiness between 1993 and 2007 and relate these changes to the expansion of preschool enrollment. Over the 14-year period we observe a significant increase in parental reports of child development and a heightened set of expectations for what parents view as essential for entry into kindergarten; but we find only modest changes in parent effort. Preschool enrollment is strongly associated with child development and, even as preschool has expanded, the association is stronger in the more recent period. Preschool enrollment does not displace parental effort – they are moderately positively correlated – nor does it appear to play a strong role in shaping parental expectations of kindergarten readiness.

Source: National Institute for Early Education Research

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