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Latino Daily News

Sunday December 1, 2013

STUDY:  Head Start Programs Prove Most Beneficial to Latino, Spanish-Speaking Children

A new study proves what many education experts have long suspected: Head Start programs and public pre-kindergarten are beneficial to Latino children.

The research by the University of North Carolina’s Graham Child Development Institute shows that children who have low English-language skills benefit the most from programs like Head Start.  Apparently, Head Start programs lessen the academic gaps between Latino children and their peers.

Latino children that are not raised in language-rich environments or raised in Spanish-only homes enter kindergarten without understanding basic classroom instructions.  Preschool provides a ‘head start’ on a bilingual approach to their studies.

Multiple studies have proven the short- and long-term social and educational benefits of a high-quality early childhood education. Experts say preschool attendance has the potential to close the achievement gap and help train a global, multilingual workforce.

In these programs Spanish-speaking children and/or children with weak English skills gain an English proficiency that will be beneficial throughout their school life.

Historically, Latino children enrolled in Head Start or pre-kindergarten classes at lower rates than other children, but that trend is changing.  According to the National Council of La Raza, one in three Head Start enrollee is Latino.  Researchers hope that studies like the one conducted at North Carolina will encourage Latino parents to move away from the “home-based” education model to public pre-K programs.

The research focused on Latino or Spanish-speaking children who were 3–5 years old. Most were in enrolled in center-based early childhood programs.

The findings of this research were published in the ‘Early Childhood Research Quarterly’ journal.

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