We’re sure you’ve been searching for the latest statistics on the benefits of preschool. After all, it’s a topic that can have a major impact on your life, and you want to be armed with the most up-to-date information possible.
And we know how hard it is to find the right statistics. We’ve been there! We’ve spent hours scouring the internet looking for relevant data on this topic, only to be left with a list of statistics that weren’t relevant or weren’t current. And then we had to spend even more time sorting through them all to see if any of them were actually useful.
So we decided to make things easier by collecting all of the most relevant Preschool vs. No Preschool statistics in one place.
Whether you’re a parent looking for some reassurance about whether or not to send your child to preschool, or a teacher who wants some data to back up your argument for more funding in early childhood education, we’ve got you covered. Our list of statistics is easy to digest and broken down by topic so you can find exactly what you need quickly.
We hope this resource helps you make an informed decision about whether or not preschool is right for your child!
Preschool Vs. Non-Preschool Statistics (Editor’s Choice)
We discovered many incredible statistics that show the positive impact of early learning. That said, not all preschool programs can offer the same benefits. Here are some of the most mind-blowing stats we found about the effects of preschool on children.
- 61% of children have a regular child care arrangement.
- 30% of American kids go to private preschools.
- Preschool is associated with lifelong well-being.
- Kids who don’t attend preschool are 25% more likely to drop out of high school.
- At-risk children attending preschool have a 44% higher high school graduation rate.
- Children who attend preschool are a third of a year ahead of other students.
- Preschoolers are 12-14 months ahead of their peers in pre-literacy and language skills.
- Highly trained teachers in early childhood education deliver better results.
- Investing $1 in quality preschool gets the country a potential investment return of $2.50 to $17.
- Spending too much time in preschool can lead to behavioral problems.
As you can see, this topic is much more complicated than we initially thought. Is preschool worth it? Keep on reading if you want to discover the ups and downs of preschool and how it affects children’s lives in the US.
Short-Term and Long-Term Benefits of Preschool Statistics
1. Nearly two-thirds of children have a regular childcare arrangement.
According to Dubs&Dash analysis, there are more than 100 studies suggesting preschool is beneficial. That seems to be driving the number of kids aged 3-6 in childcare up, which grew by 6% in 2012. About 61% of American children have a regular childcare arrangement, and the remaining 39% don’t.
2. Preschool doesn’t come cheap.
About two-thirds of children are enrolled in preschool, and 30% go to private childcare centers. These kids get all the benefits from early education, yet this doesn’t come cheap for the family.
Preschool tutoring for a 4-year-old costs about $3,900 in Mississippi and about $11,700 in Massachusetts. Living in more attractive neighborhoods means more expensive preschool centers. Sometimes, the prices go up to a fantastic $39,525 a year.
(Child Aware of America)
3. Preschool makes kids ready to learn and brings other benefits.
Statistics show that less than half or about 48% of kids from low-income families start elementary school ready to learn. This figure is significantly higher at 75% among children from middle-income families. The latter is more likely to send their kids to preschool, where they acquire the skills that enable them to succeed later in life.
The more we research the effects of preschool, the more we learn that there are many early benefits. Some of the most notable ones are:
- Learning from a young age through play positively affects brain development.
- Inspires curiosity in children, which heavily affects academic performance.
- It helps with emotional development and encourages positive self-worth and self-esteem.
- It helps with social development and creates positive behavior.
- Creates a desire to learn past preschool age.
- Leads to better scores on achievement tests.
4. Preschool is associated with lifelong well-being.
Research revealed a correlation between lifelong well-being and formal schooling, such as preschool and kindergarten.
The study included 115 early childhood programs and measured short-term and long-term outcomes. Some domains included behavior and emotion, cognitive achievement, development, and health. Out of those 115, 102 programs were found to have a lifelong impact on children’s well-being.
Preschool and Children’s Development Statistics
5. Preschool can be crucial for children’s learning and development.
Some studies discovered that children enrolled in high-quality preschool programs have better health, cognitive, and social-emotional outcomes than those not registered. In fact, preschoolers were 12-14 months ahead of their peers in pre-literacy and language skills when they started kindergarten.
In the US, 59% of all 4-year-olds are not attending any preschool program. This includes state preschools, Head Start, or other special education services. This is a concerning percentage because of how many benefits preschoolers have compared to the others.
6. Children enrolled in quality childcare show better language and cognitive development.
An interesting study from the early 90s followed 1,000 demographically and ethnically diverse children for the first four years of their life. Children in high-quality non-maternal child care had better language and cognitive development in the first four years of their lives.
In addition, childcare children were more cooperative in the first three years of their lives. This is compared to those enrolled in low-quality programs and those who did not attend any preschool.
7. Children who spend more time in childcare show more behavioral problems.
It looks like balance is everything, and quality outweighs quantity when it comes to preschool.
Children who spent more hours in non-maternal child care showed more behavior problems in both preschool and kindergarten classrooms than those who spent fewer hours. Moreover, children who attended preschool centers showed more behavior problems than those in other childcare arrangements.
8. Preschool prepares young children for school.
A report by Rand shows that high-quality preschool programs improve school readiness for all enrolled children. There was no significant difference between part-day or full-day preschool programs and those one or two years long. But there was a substantial difference between children who went to preschool and those that didn’t.
9. Children who attend preschool are a third of a year ahead of other students.
With the help of eight different universities, the Society for Research in Child Development analyzed 84 preschool programs in the US and discovered that children who were enrolled in preschool were at least a third of a year ahead of children who never went to early child care.
The most noticeable difference between the two groups of children was in the reading and math subjects. Moreover, children who went to preschool had higher high school graduation rates and more years of learning.
(Society for Research in Child Development)
10. Preschool children retain a statistical advantage in math and reading skills.
The Abecedarian Project started in the 70s and followed children’s progress for over 40 years. All children were closely monitored from birth till the age of five. Afterward, several follow-up studies were conducted when the children were ages 12, 15, 21, 30, and 35.
As we already mentioned, preschoolers perform at a higher level in math and reading tests than children who never attended preschool.
What is more surprising is that this advantage continues to follow the children till they are adults. In fact, the follow-up studies showed us that children from the Abecedarian Project retained a statistical advantage in math and reading skill, had significantly higher chances to attend a 4-year college, and were less likely to suffer from depression.
(The Carolina Abecedarian Project)
11. Playful learning experiences can lead to building healthy brain connections in toddlers.
According to a paper by the LEGO Foundation, learning through play is crucial for toddlers. All playful experiences create a unique context for rich and supportive learning in early childhood. It is because toddlers experience meaningful social interactions with their caregivers, which helps them build healthy brain connections.
(The LEGO Foundation)
12. Playful education causes deeper learning in children between 3 and 12 years old.
It seems that playful experiences are not only beneficial for toddlers. When learning through play, children between the ages of 3 and 12 learn how to absorb new information through positive emotions such as joy, meaningfulness, and social interactions. That is especially true for preschools that encourage learning through play.
The paper shows us that children can gain a deeper understanding by connecting the concepts and skills they discover with real-world examples. That is why playful experiences lead to richer learning, more opportunities to practice their knowledge, and inspiring new ideas in school or at home.
(The LEGO Foundation)
13. Highly trained teachers in early childhood education deliver better results.
There is no doubt that preschool has a lot of benefits, but things are not as simple as they should be.
Many studies in the past 50 years show a significant difference between the benefits of high-quality preschools compared to the rest. In addition, high-quality preschools usually come with highly trained teachers in early childhood education, which helps children have better results.
In short, children enrolled in high-quality programs experience both temporary and long-lasting benefits from going to preschool. On the other hand, some children enrolled in low-quality programs have a short-term advantage over those who never went to preschool. Yet, they lose the long-term benefits and score the same in many areas as children who never went to preschool.
14. High-quality preschool leads to high school and college graduation, and career success.
Children who attend high-quality preschools with highly trained teachers grow up to have successful careers. Moreover, the same study shows us that investing in early learning leads to an investment return of $8.60 for every $1 spent. About half of these earnings come from higher profits from children when they grow up.
The potential investment return for every $1 the country gives to quality preschool education is between $2.50 and $17.
(US Department of Education)
At-Risk Children and Preschool Statistics
15. High-quality preschool has the most significant impact on low-income children.
A review of 49 studies on the impact of high-quality early childhood education on low-income children showed that the benefits heavily outweigh the costs.
The assessment measured social and emotional development outcomes, academic performance, crime, and teen births and discovered that these programs have both short-term and long-term benefits for low-income children.
(Washington State Institute for Public Policy)
16. At-risk children attending preschool have a 44% higher high school graduation rate.
The Perry Preschool Project provided high-quality preschool education for 3 and 4 years old African American children who lived in poverty. The Project lasted from 1962 till 1967. About 75% of the children (3-year-olds) attended the program for two years, while the rest (4-year-olds) were there for one year.
A follow-up study was made when the children were at the age of 27. The results showed a 44% higher high school graduation rate. Moreover, almost all children had one full year of schooling more than the rest.
(Perry Preschool Project)
17. At-risk kids enrolled in preschool had 28% fewer chances to develop alcohol or drug problems.
The Chicago Longitudinal Study tracked 1,539 low-income, minority children growing up in poverty neighborhoods in Chicago between 1985 and 1986. Most of the kids were African Americans (93%) and were marked as at-risk because of their social-environmental disadvantages. The children were tracked till they turned 28.
The study showed promising results. The children who went to high-quality preschool had 28% fewer chances of developing alcohol or drug problems. Moreover, they had lower chances of ending up in prison during adulthood. They even had 22% lower chances of being arrested for a felony and 24% more chances to attend a 4-year college.
(Chicago Longitudinal Study)
18. Preschool has a life-long impact on a child’s future.
Not only does preschool have early-life benefits, but it also has significant later-life benefits. Not attending preschool, especially for “at-risk” children, can lead to many issues later on.
Here are some examples:
- 25% more likely to drop out of high school.
- 40% more likely to become a teenager parent.
- 60% more likely not to get a college education.
- 70% more likely to get arrested for violent crimes.
As you can see, one thing leads to another. And they can all often impact someone’s life even before that person becomes an adult.
(Ounce of Prevention)
19. Public pre-K programs may lead to academic struggles in students.
There is no doubt that state-funded preschools, also known as pre-kindergarten (pre-K) programs, are expanding with lightning speed. These programs are specifically designed to provide early childhood education for low-income kids. Until recently, it was believed they were making a difference in these children’s lives.
Unfortunately, based on a study including 2,990 children from low-income families, they performed worse than children who did not attend any preschool. The analyzed data showed that the children had the most substantial adverse effects in sixth grade. They also had higher chances of misbehaving during classes, skipping school, and struggling academically in the following years.
The reasons are still being discussed, but according to similar studies, highly trained teachers in early childhood learning are making the difference. Unfortunately, most pre-K programs do not offer these types of teachers.
20. Enrollment in Head Start shows no impact on language and literacy development.
Unlike most high-quality preschool programs, it seems that Head Start doesn’t have the desired long-term impact on kids.
There were significant differences between the children who went through Head Start and those who didn’t attend any preschool program during their studies. Yet, all impacts disappeared by the time the children reached first grade.
In addition, most children enrolled in Head Start showed little to no retention in vocabulary and literacy.
21. Most positive effects from pre-K are reversed by second grade.
A study including 18,000 children showed that the children who went to preschool were much more prepared for kindergarten than the rest. That said, all results seemed reversed when the children reached second grade. Compared to the children who went to pre-K, those who never attended any preschool program were ahead.
22. Preschool can’t make up for the effects of poverty.
Despite all the benefits of preschool, it still cannot nullify all the negative impacts of poverty. A study by The American Federation of Teachers shows that kids living in poverty have a 30-million-word gap by the age of 3. Moreover, the vocabulary these kids learn is often negative, like prohibitions instead of affirmations.
The results haven’t been the best. Even with an additional effort from preschool professionals dedicated to growing the number of words children from low-income families have. This led to the conclusion that preschool isn’t enough even though it has benefits for the kids’ overall development.
It’s clear that the impact of preschool is far-reaching. It affects everything from how well students do in school to their likelihood of getting into college to how likely they are to get married, have children, and live long lives. These statistics show us just how important early education really is—and what we can do about it.
The more you know about the benefits of preschool, the more likely you are to send your child. And the more likely you are to send your child, the better their chances are of living a healthy and happy life! So make sure to share this article with anyone whose opinion matters to you—and if they aren’t convinced yet, keep sharing until they get it.
We hope this article has given you some food for thought about the benefits of preschool and encouraged you to push for more funding for quality early childhood education programs. If you want more information on this topic, feel free to reach out!
- Child Aware of America
- Brookings Institution
- Ounce of Prevention
- Society for Research in Child Development
- The Carolina Abecedarian Project
- The LEGO Foundation, Brookings
- U.S. Department of Education
- Washington State Institute for Public Policy
- Perry Preschool Project
- Chicago Longitudinal Study