The Potts Family Foundation believes it is critical to focus greater efforts on vocabulary expansion, literacy, and mathematics, emotional and social skills in the prekindergarten years.
The end of third grade is a critical milestone for most students because it makes the point at which they must have mastered foundational language and literacy skills necessary to succeed in other subject areas. Beginning in fourth grade, students are expected to read accurately and fluently, increasing their capacity to understand written text to learn and evaluate new information and, in turn, to generate and communicate ideas. Decades of research offer clear guidance on what policymakers and practitioners need to support children from early childhood through third grade in developing language and literacy skills.
Language and literacy development begins at birth, and gaps in achievement appear well before kindergarten
entry. High quality-early learning experiences can help close the gap. Reading proficiency is taught and developed over time and depends on the early development of language and communication skills. Parents, primary caregivers, and teachers have the most influence on a child’s language and literacy development.
Early numeracy is defined by numerical competencies that are foundational to building competence in mathematics. Research shows that number sense is a skill present at birth (in a very primitive form), and improves with age. Informal math skills are those mathematics skills children learn before entering school, through their environment and play situations, that do not involve written numerals, mathematical symbols, or formal math procedures.
The development of informal numeracy or number sense provides a sound foundation for learning mathematics at school. If these basic skills are lacking, a child’s math development at school may be affected. There is much that can be done in the prekindergarten years to encourage the development of numeracy at home and in early childhood centers.