On behalf of the New Haven Public Schools, welcome to our Early Childhood Program. Since we began offering early care and education programs in 1997, we have served over 14,000 children in our high quality infant, toddler and preschool programs. Our commitment to early childhood is evident in the addition of preschool classrooms in our new elementary schools and our increased success in leveraging state and federal funds so more children can have a Pre-K experience. And it has paid off! We have dramatically increased the percentage of children coming to kindergarten ready to learn. While in 1995, some 63.2% of children had a Pre-K experience prior to kindergarten, that number is now at 73.90%, the highest percentage of any urban district in the State.
Why is a quality Pre-K experience so important? We know that children who enter kindergarten with the so-called "word gap" are at a tremendous disadvantage. Even as the nation is devoting more resources and attention to helping children learn to read, a huge "word gap" still exists between affluent and poor children. Research has shown by the time a child from a low-income household enters first grade, that child has gained only a 5,000 word vocabulary, compared with 20,000 words learned by a middle-class child. Further research shows that 86% of the words that children learn in their first few years of life are learned directly from their parents.
While parents are their children’s first teacher, they can certainly form a partnership with an early childhood teacher when they register their child for Pre-K. All across the city Pre-K programs are working with parents to help children become confident little people, excited about learning.
We are fortunate that New Haven Public Schools has a partner in this effort too, The New Haven Early Childhood Council. Appointed by Mayor Tony N. Harp, the Council is working to increase the quantity and quality of early childhood programs in New Haven.
The first five years of a child’s life are a critical time. High quality experiences, both inside and outside the home can mean all the difference in setting the stage for a life of success. A child who comes to kindergarten recognizing letters of the alphabet, numbers and shapes has a better foundation than a child who has had none of these early experiences. In New Haven we will work diligently to provide that important first foundation.
I hope you will browse our site and learn more about our Pre-K options and how they can help your child be fully prepared to enter kindergarten ready to learn.