The Case for Preschool & Pre-K: Benefits Throughout Life

The Case for Preschool & Pre-K: Benefits Throughout Life

It’s no secret that Kindergarten is a special and important time in a young student’s academic life. It’s a year dedicated to reading and math fundamentals, adjusting to classroom expectations, and learning to navigate playground politics. But did you know that research now suggests that attending preschool (age 3-4) and pre-K (age 4-5) is proving to be just as important to a child’s long-term success in life?

During an unintended preschool experiment run through Boston’s public schools in 1997-2003, about 4,000 4-year-olds took part in preschool lottery system. Students were randomly selected to receive an extra year of preschool, and researchers were able to compare and contrast life outcomes for students in these two groups (extra year of preschool vs. no extra preschool) over the course of the past two decades.


St. Paul's preschool students work on a collage project with glue and various art supplies.

Kids who attended an extra year of preschool had a high school graduation rate of 70% (6 points higher than the kids who didn’t attend preschool); the preschoolers were also more likely to attend college (54% vs. 46%). One interesting finding was that while the extra year of preschool didn’t have an impact on standardized test scores, that extra year was crucial to helping students develop “non-cognitive skills,” like social-emotional awareness, grit, and understanding rules and expectations.

In a separate study, Nobel-prize winning economist, James Heckman found throughout research in the 1960s and 1970s that children who attend preschool are less likely to get arrested, are more likely to get jobs, earn more money, and are more likely be physically healthy (i.e. have lower blood pressure, less obesity, etc). In particular, based on Heckman’s research, these long-term positive outcomes can only be attributed to students who attend high-quality preschool programs in formal settings outside the home.

A group of preschool students play in a sandbox at St. Paul's Episcopal Day School.

These results are just some of the data points among growing evidence that preschool and pre-kindergarten, particularly high-quality programs, can permanently improve students’ lives. At St. Paul’s, we provide excellent learning opportunities for our youngest students. Our preschool and pre-kindergarten programs are designed to foster social-emotional skills and spark a love of learning in our students.

Our Early Childhood Division Head, Mindy Stephenson, shared, "There's no doubt that the St. Paul's early childhood experience provides opportunities that will have lifelong benefits. Our teachers form positive, lasting relationships with students and participate in extensive professional development. Our social and emotional programming is intentional and promotes enduring foundational skills that will serve our students in relationships, in school, and in work. The early childhood academic curriculum is engaging and designed to promote a curiosity for learning and for school."

With our small class sizes, dynamic curriculum, and immersive hands-on projects, St. Paul’s early education students are setup to succeed as they grow into compassionate, engaged citizens.

Find out more about our early education program through the links below, and email to schedule a tour of our school.

St. Paul's Preschool

St. Paul's Pre-Kindergarten