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U of M research: All-day preschool can mean 'dramatic increase' in school readiness

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A University of Minnesota study finds youngsters who spend all day in preschool can get a big jump on their peers who are there for just a few hours a day.

Arthur Reynolds, the U of M researcher who co-authored the study, tells the Pioneer Press it determined more is better for preschoolers: "We found that if you increase learning and instruction time within a high-quality program, you can dramatically increase school readiness."

As the newspaper reports, Reynolds' study followed 1,000 children from low-income families who enrolled in a preschool program serving 11 schools in Chicago. 80 percent of the kids who attended for a full day finished the program at or above the national norms for kindergarten readiness. The same was true for 59 percent of the half-day preschoolers.

Reynolds tells WCCO the findings are especially significant since other studies show about half of the kids who enter kindergarten are not fully ready to benefit from it.

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MPR News reports teachers at an all-day preschool program in St. Paul modeled after the one that was studied in Chicago say they're not surprised by the study's results. One of the teachers tells the network that having seven hours per day with students rather than three not only gives teachers more time to work with the kids – it also gives the students more time to make friends and get accustomed to school.

A pediatrician at Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York tells HealthDay News the study's results are likely good news for working parents.

Dr. Andrew Adesman says "These findings are likely comforting and reassuring for households where the work commitments of the primary caregivers necessitate placing their child in a full-day preschool program."

The study is reportedly being published in Wednesday's edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association. There's more about the study here.

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