I loved preschool. It was a place where I could Mousercise without inhibition, make cool crafts like the coffee filter graduation cap in the picture below, and see all of my friends who didn't go to my daycare. But, was it the place where I learned the skills necessary for job success?
All Things Considered recently ran a story entitled "Preschool: The Best Job-Training Program." As a job readiness teacher and a new mom, I was definitely intrigued.
The story detailed the work of James Heckman, a Nobel Prize-winning economist. He had studied the effects of job training programs on young, unskilled workers. It turns out the programs didn't really work, and in some cases, they had a negative impact. In trying to figure out why, they determined that it wasn't a curriculum flaw, but rather the fact that the students in these programs lacked the soft skills (self-control, curiosity, the ability to avoid getting frustrated) necessary to learn the information. No fear, though. These skills can be taught. However, it's best if they're taught at the preschool level.
Nurture Shock. In this chapter, they discuss a preschool curriculum called Tools of the Mind. Among other things, teachers using this curriculum encourage their students to map out their plan for play and to stick to the role designated in their plans, evaluate their own work, and play games, like Simon Says, which require restraint.
When I suggested that we move to a city with a Tools of the Mind preschool program, Craig just laughed. In the meantime, I'm sure that many preschool programs contain some of the elements of this curriculum, and I can always incorporate some of the more effective portions of this curriculum at home.