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Preschool boosts non-English children

11:25 Thu May 3 2012

Children whose parents speak little or no English can substantially improve their reading skills by taking part in a preschool education program, according to a report on a US study.

The report titled Preschool and School Readiness: Experiences of Children with Non-English-Speaking Parents, said increasing the number of four-year-olds enrolled in preschool would translate into a higher number of children prepared to meet the academic requirements of formal schooling.

"Although California enrolls many linguistically isolated preschool-age children in centre-based care, one-third of linguistically isolated children do not participate in these programs," authors Jill Cannon, Alison Jacknowitz and Lynn Karoly said on Wednesday.

The study notes that many children start kindergarten ill-equipped to meet its requirements. This can lead to low achievement throughout their schooling.

But when these minors - who make up nearly 20 per cent of four-year-olds in California - attend a high-quality preschool program they significantly improve their early reading skills and are better prepared to start school.

Similar improvements in maths skills, however, were not seen among linguistically isolated pre-schoolers attending centre-based programs, which could do more to promote school readiness in that subject area, the study said.