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Pre-K and Early Head Start Programs Enhance Children's Development

In two studies appearing in a special issue of Developmental Psychology, researchers show the benefits of universal pre-K programs (serving 4-year-olds) and Early Head Start programs (serving infants, toddlers, and their families) on children's cognitive and language development, but especially for those children who are from low-income families. The study of pre-K documented benefits in several aspects of school readiness, and the Early Head Start study showed gains in social-emotional development and benefits for parents as well. Developmental Psychology is published by the American Psychological Association (APA).

Findings from both studies confirm the positive effects of these programs for children from birth to age five, including higher performance in children's cognitive and language functioning. The Early Head Start program benefited children's social and emotional development and health as well as reduced aggressive behavior, and improved parent-child relations, and the pre-K program increased parents' involvement in school and home activities.

The pre-K program improved performances for children from different ethnic backgrounds (Hispanic, Black, White and Native American) and income brackets (measured by those who are eligible for a full price lunch, a reduced-price lunch and no lunch subsidy), according to the study. Disadvantaged children and Hispanic children benefited the most.

This article appeared on Newswise on November 2, 2005.

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