Universal Preschool FAQs
Frequently Asked Questions
This page is to help clarify any questions or confusion regarding what this site is about, and what we are trying to achieve.
The questions here have been submitted by real people who wanted to better understand the issues surrounding government mandated and/or funded preschool-for-all programs (aka "universal preschool") and how it affects parental rights and the education of young children.
We hope our responses help you to better understand the mission of UniversalPreschool.com. If, after reviewing our website and reading the FAQs, you still have questions of your own, please submit them. We will try to answer your questions to the best of our ability as quickly as possible.
- What is Universal Preschool?
- What is mandatory preschool?
- Can the state government really force my preschooler to go to school?
- Why shouldn't parents send their kids to government preschools?
- How does a parent know if they are qualified to teach their preschooler?
- Wouldn't a certified teacher be better qualified to teach a preschooler?
- Wouldn't a school have better resources and more stimulating activities than a home?
- What can a parent do to stimulate their preschooler's learning at home?
- Where can a parent get preschool curriculum?
- Will a child that doesn't attend preschool be accepted to Kindergarten?
- What about socialization?
- Shouldn't the government provide preschool programs for disadvantaged children?
A: We believe there are 2 separate and distinct definitions:
- As the government or state would define it right now, "Universal Preschool" is
public preschool funded by tax dollars, and made available to all children
ages 2-5, regardless of need or family income. It is being developed in response to:
- The demand for childcare that stems from the increasing proportion of families that have both parents in the workforce;
- The increase in the number of preschoolers who are English language learners, and therefore need to be identified to receive intervention for their special needs;
- The agenda of special interest groups such as corporations and teachers unions that will profit from public preschool programs.
These factors have resulted in a national campaign to institutionalize all preschoolers through government funded and/or mandated "universal preschool." Proponents say that ideally, government preschools would provide a stimulating learning environment, with credentialed teachers overseeing a staff, with low staff-child ratios. This is just fancy language for government daycare centers and English language immersion programs for little kids.Little kids are naturally curious and driven to learn.
It's easier to sell a massive undertaking such as this to the public by disguising it as an "education" program regardless of the fact that the preponderance of scientific research suggests early separation of children from their parents and too early academics is harmful to young children. Government preschool-for-all is really a welfare program for working parents, and a feat of social engineering that will be implemented at taxpayers' expense to the detriment of the majority of children who are institutionalized in these programs. This is the first step in an attempt by the state to usurp the parental right to determine for one's own child if he/she should attend preschool.
- As we define it, "Universal Preschool" is not a government preschool program. It is really an unheralded worldwide community of loving, functional parents who exercise their right and authority to nurture and teach their young children at home, sometimes with the occasional and thoughtful use of private and co-op preschool programs in their community.
With a track record spanning the existence of humanity, parents provide a safe home, a natural routine, a stimulating environment, nutritious food, and loving interaction. Children become smart, happy, self-confident, self-sufficient, curious and capable learners, fully prepared to successfully tackle academics and life skills when they are developmentally ready and motivated to do so. This is a better model for the healthy intellectual, physical, social and emotional development of young children than any government preschool program.
A: Mandatory preschool requires compliance by law. In other words, all preschoolers within a certain age-range (for example 2-5 years) would be required by law to attend government preschools, with penalties for non-attendance or truant behavior.
A. Yes. Just as all children are currently forced to attend public school under penalty of law. If a law is passed requiring compulsory education of preschoolers, than all preschoolers would be required to go to preschool, under penalty of law.
A: Because parents should want to do what's best for children. There is a preponderance of research evidence that early separation from parents and too early academics is physically, intellectually, socially, and emotionally harmful to young children.
Child psychologists are urging parents to get little kids out of academic, curriculum oriented facilities and back into nurturing homes with natural learning experiences and loads of imaginative play. The best environment for a young child is with loving parents who provide enrichment opportunities in a supportive and secure home while being attentive to the child's needs. That's the ideal.
Parents can also introduce their little ones to the bounty of life and that may include the thoughtful, occasional use of private and co-op preschools that understand the meaningful purpose of play and provide lots of opportunity for it. While working parents may need childcare services, their children will do much better in the care of extended functional, loving family members or in private childcare situations, where again, there is less focus on rigid structure and academic work, and more opportunities for open ended explorations and discoveries under the watchful guidance of a loving, caring adult.
A: What does it say about a society when parents are indoctrinated to believe that they have no authority, no expertise, and no ability to parent and teach their own kids?
What do you make of a culture that thinks parents can't be trusted to rely on their instinct and intuition to know and understand their own children and to guide them in learning about the world?
Doesn't the fact that parents love and care about their children more than anyone else in the world make them uniquely qualified to teach them?
From the beginning of humankind until only about 30 years ago most children under five years of age were taught successfully and exclusively by their mothers and fathers. How does a parent know they are qualified to nurse a baby or change a baby's diapers? How does a parent know if they are qualified to teach a baby to talk, walk, dress themselves, feed themselves, learn life skills? It's instinctive.
Little kids are naturally curious and driven to learn. Parents have been endowed by Mother Nature with the good sense to know what to do when kids need help and ask questions. A primitive, intuitive, biological dance between parent and child continues to this day. You just have to tune out the noise from the culture that says you aren't qualified, you aren't capable, and that you need an expert to teach your child how to tie their shoes, never run with scissors, and play well with others.
A: That's what the teachers' unions would like you to believe. The answer is no.
We have elevated people with specific credentials to the level of "experts" and we are awed and intimidated by them in this society. We feel under-qualified next to them, without even taking the time to examine what it is they had to do to get those credentials.
Most parents have more experiential and practical knowledge with young children than preschool teachers ever get in credential programs. Also, most preschool programs don't require teachers to have state teaching credentials, although some require staff to have Early Childhood Education certificates.
In California, for example, an Early Childhood Education certificate has very minimal requirements - 12 college level early childhood education units. That's it.
You don't need a college diploma to take these classes at a community college and get the ECE rating. So parents need to understand that certificates and ratings don't necessarily mean that a "teacher" or staff member is better qualified than a parent. Functional, loving parents are the most natural and suitable teachers for their own young children.
Additionally, common sense should tell you that to drop toddlers and tiny kids off at an institution with transient strangers for hours each day can't possibly be as good for kids as time spent in the company of their own parents. Think about it.
Preschool is conducted in an artificial (not home) environment, where children's time is managed for the purpose of crowd control. Individual needs are diminished or neglected for the sake of group management.
A child's curiosity and questions can only be dealt with when it is convenient for the instructor (and it rarely is). A child's interest in anything has a time limit - because "we have to move on to the next group activity." Natural body rhythms are ignored and artificial ones imposed - i.e., nap time, snack time, potty time, or just not being able to get up and move when one needs to (during a critical time for gross motor development).
A tiny child learns quickly that to trust and follow their own instincts and impulses is wrong and should be ignored. They are forced through persuasion, rewards, and/or coercion to passively comply with an authority figure (who often, for the sake of time management and crowd control, does not have their best interests at heart).
Preschools require a young child to exist in an environment where impulses must be constantly controlled, and where their actions and behavior are continuously monitored and judged. To put a young child in a place where they must submit and surrender the self - so that self-identity, self-interest, self-direction, and self-confidence may not be discovered or explored - is probably not the best possible environment in which to nurture the developing and malleable human being.
Functional, loving parents who have their child's best interests at heart make the best facilitators (teachers) for the healthy growth and development of young children.
A: Most homes have far more enrichment opportunities than a classroom. Doesn't a home have a kitchen, a garden, pets, books, magazines, newspapers, money, computers, television, tools, machines, toys, games, music, artwork and an infinite number of enriching items and environments for a child to explore?
Life offers opportunities to learn at every moment and the world around us provides plenty of "curriculum." Children are naturally curious about everything.
Doesn't a little child ask a thousand questions every day because they are innately driven to figure out how to function well in the world? Don't kids follow their parents from room to room and imitate their behavior or try to learn whatever their parents are doing? Don't kids want to learn how to do everything -- right now, all by themselves?
An aware parent simply needs to answer children's questions with facts, clarity, and honesty and patiently show them how to do things they are curious about. Helping little kids learn isn't rocket science, and it doesn't require an assortment of expert-prescribed gizmos and gadgets. Learning happens naturally in the normal rhythm and routine of day-to-day living.
A: Normal, everyday things that by their very nature provide academic readiness skills and a solid foundation for life-long learning success. Many things that give our kids life skills, also provide them with an introduction to subjects like math and science.
For example, you can teach your child to cook, or plant, tend and harvest a garden. You can explore nature in your backyard or at a nearby park or hiking trail. Read together and go to library story times to develop language skills. Build with blocks and boxes to help kids understand form and structure and to develop problem-solving skills.
Art projects improve small motor skills through learning to cut, color, and paste. Make forts and play make-believe games to fire up imaginations as kids act out dozens of characters and scenarios. Children learn the sandbox rules at local parks as they play with other kids.
It is simple to show a child how to draw letters and numbers, how to write their own name, and eventually how to write many words. Play in the dirt, sand, or water -- it teaches kids a lot about their world, the creatures they share it with, and a great deal about matter, form, substance, and function.
Physical health improves with natural kid activities like running, jumping, tumbling, climbing, swinging, dancing and more. Sorting and counting rocks, shells, seeds, and coins lays the groundwork for understanding math.
You can explore the neighborhood, and take advantage of community resources like mommy-and-me classes at the local recreation center. Look at the stars at night and take walks in the moonlight. Make gooey science experiments and handcrafted holiday gifts. Try to answer your child's questions with facts, clarity, and honesty. If you don't know an answer -- show your child how to find the answer.
Hold, snuggle, hug and cuddled your child so that he or she feels loved. You don't need a laboratory, a classroom, or a teacher. Simply live your lives and by virtue of including your child in your everyday learning, work, and play, he or she will acquire knowledge of the world, all of the skills needed for enrollment in Kindergarten or elementary school (or in a homeschool), and your child will be confident and happy.
A: Everywhere. There is no shortage of curriculum materials for preschoolers. In fact, there's a glut. Enter the keywords "preschool curriculum" on the Internet or visit any Walmart store and you'll find educational books, workbooks, games and toys that teach everything from phonics to dinosaur anatomy.
The real question to ask is, "Does a young child need to follow a curriculum?" Many curriculum products are way too structured, rigid, and inappropriately academic for developing minds and bodies. Children learn mainly through play, interaction with caring adults, lots of conversation, reading, and exposure to the bounty of life.
A: Yes. Public schools currently accept all children who meet the minimum age requirement, regardless of whether or not they have attended preschool. Private schools may be more selective. Some screen applicants through an interview or intelligence test or some other "readiness" assessment process to determine eligibility for Kindergarten.
A: Young, preschool age children, in general, learn social interaction skills from adults -- not from other young children.
Parents model appropriate behavior and by example show their children how to behave in any given situation. Through one-on-one interaction they help their kids to understand how to share, be polite, and cooperate with others. Through interaction with family and friends, and through opportunities to play and learn with others in their community, little kids learn all of the sandbox rules needed to get along with others.
A: The federal government does provide preschool or early childhood education programs for children on an income-based need basis. Head Start is one example.
The federal government also funds many state ECE programs for poor and at-risk families as well. In addition to social welfare programs, many private organizations offer free childcare and preschool programs for disadvantaged children as well.
Because these programs are already in place for poor families, it is not necessary to create them for all families regardless of income or need. It puts an undue burden on taxpayers who fund the programs, and, as mentioned before, the programs may cause more harm than good to young children from functional, middle class or advantaged homes.