I had just given a presentation in Florida. Part of my task was to help community members and stakeholders see not only the need for investing in early education, but specifically for investments in high-quality early education. It seemed logical to draw from the research out of Tennessee showing that without key quality components, the early childhood programs simply didn’t deliver on the positive outcomes people assumed they were investing in.
A few days later, someone sent me this article from NPR, which carried a very similar thesis. (It’s always nice to know you were on the right track.)
Soon, I started seeing the article pop up everywhere in my friends’ social media feeds. When my dad sent me the link saying he thought I might find it interesting, I knew the article wasn’t just resonating with the education crowd. There was something here that made everyone pay attention.
At the center of the article was developmental psychologist and researcher Dr. Dale Farran and her reflections on the most recent round of the ongoing longitudinal study of Tennessee’s statewide PreK program. (Spoiler Alert: Contrary to positive outcomes shown in other states, these outcomes have not been great.) The article struck a nerve, particularly its last line which said, “We might actually get better results, … from simply letting little children play.”
In the latest episode of Not Just Cute: The Podcast, I take a deep dive into the context around this article and the study it references. There’s so much we can learn from these results, and the reality is, these lessons apply far beyond the scope of the popular article.
I hope you’ll join me.