Teaching 4-Year-Olds To Feel Better

Jul 14, 2014

You're 4 years old, building a block tower. Another kid runs up and knocks it down. What do you do? A) Tell her that's against the rules. B) Go tell a teacher. C) Hit her. D) Start to cry. E) What did you say again?

Public preschool enrollment fell slightly last year, according to a report released today by researchers at Rutgers University.

About 9,000 fewer children attended public pre-K programs in 2013 than in 2012, the report from the university's National Institute for Early Education Research says. It's the first time since researchers began examining this issue in 2002 that the numbers have fallen.

At preschools in Tulsa, Okla., teachers are well-educated and well-paid, and classrooms are focused on play, but are still challenging. One nonprofit in Tulsa, the Community Action Project, has flipped the script on preschool. The idea behind its Career Advance program is simple: To help kids, the group believes, you often have to help their parents.

For years, President Obama has been a vocal booster of early childhood education. In his past two State of the Union addresses, he has called on Congress to help fund preschool for every child in the country.

"Research shows that one of the best investments we can make in a child's life is high-quality early education," Obama told Congress in January.

It's a Wednesday morning at the Eliot K-8 Innovation School. Teacher Jodi Doyle is working with a small group of preschool students interested in domes.

"What do you think the difference is between a dome and an arch?" she asks.

The lesson doesn't go exactly as planned. Doyle wants the kids to build their domes with wire, but she wants the children to come up with that idea themselves. The kids used wire several months ago for a related project, and she hopes they'll remember.