Are pre-K 'cram courses' an adequate substitute for full programs?
In lieu of full programming, some students undergo month-long pre-kindergarten summer programs that teach them how to respond in a classroom setting and introduce them to rudimentary language and math skills, according to The Hechinger Report.
While the classes do not offer the same academic benefits as a year-long pre-kindergarten program, they do seem to at least provide social-emotional learning that can ease the transition into a kindergarten setting.
United Way funding helps provide summer pre-k cram courses in some areas where state dollars for pre-k instruction are conspicuously absent.
Numerous studies support the importance of quality pre-kindergarten programs, particularly for low-income students who are at high risk of long-term academic failure. Despite these studies, most states can only find funding for a limited number of students to attend pre-kindergarten programs each year. This situation creates barriers to learning where many students are not prepared for the rigors of modern kindergarten instruction.
Summer cram courses for kindergarten offer an alternative for students who would otherwise have no formal introduction at all. These courses are not entirely new, and while The Hechinger Report explores a summer crash course in Indiana, other school districts have tried similar programs in the past.
The possible danger of such programs could be that lawmakers will rush to judgment in assuming that they are an adequate substitute for expanded pre-k programs. It would be interesting to see more studies conducted on the benefits of short-term pre-k crash courses compared to quality long-term programs, but in the meantime, school districts may do well to encourage parents of students who cannot find placement in either short- or long-term pre-k programs to work on preparing children themselves.
- The Hechinger Report Cramming for Kindergarten