The Most Important Year
Pre-Kindergarten and the Future of Our Children
Suzanne Bouffard, Thérèse Plummer
An eye-opening look inside pre-K in America and what it will take to give all children the best start in school possible.
At the heart of this groundbreaking book are two urgent questions: What do our young children need in the earliest years of school, and how do we ensure that they all get it? Cutting-edge research has proven that early childhood education is crucial for all children to gain the academic and emotional skills they need to succeed later in life. Children who attend quality pre-K programs have a host of positive outcomes including better language, literacy, problem-solving and math skills down the line, and they have a leg up on what appears to be the most essential skill to develop at age four: strong self-control. But even with this overwhelming evidence, early childhood education is at a crossroads in America. We know that children can and do benefit, but we also know that too many of our littlest learners don’t get that chance—millions of parents can’t find spots for their children, or their preschoolers end up in poor quality programs.
With engrossing storytelling, journalist Suzanne Bouffard takes us inside some of the country’s best pre-K classrooms to reveal the sometimes surprising ingredients that make them work—and to understand why some programs are doing the opposite of what is best for children. It also chronicles the stories of families and teachers from many backgrounds as they struggle to give their children a good start in school. This book is a call to arms when we are at a crucial moment, and perhaps on the verge of a missed opportunity: We now have the means and the will to have universal pre-kindergarten, but we are also in grave danger of not getting it right.