Study Shows Preschool Attendance Lowers Risk of Future Addiction, Jail Time

Family Matters on 06.10.11

 

For kids growing up in Chicago's low-income neighborhoods in the '80s and '90s, attending preschool cut their chances of developing drug and alcohol addictions, going to jail, and being arrested, while improving their rates of college admission and their earning potential, says one 28-year-long study.

Time Healthland reports on a study published in Science, which followed more than 1,500 kids born in 1979 and 1980; 950 of the families sent their children to the federally-funded Child-Parent Center Education Program starting when they were 3 and 4 years old, while the remaining students skipped preschool and began their education with full-day kindergarten.

The results: 

 

After tracking the children to age 28, researchers found that those who had attended preschool were 28% less likely to develop alcohol or other drug problems or to wind up in jail or prison in adulthood, compared with kids who did not go to preschool. What's more, their odds of being arrested for a felony were cut by 22% and they were 24% more likely to attend a four-year college. Incomes in adulthood of those who attended preschool ere also higher than those for the children who did not.

 

But Arthur Reynolds, who authored the study, is quick to point out that just any preschool won't have the same effect: You need trained teachers, a "structured but nurturing environment," and plenty of parental involvement.

"Just funding preschool doesn't mean it's going to be effective," he says. "You have to follow the principles of quality."

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