Idaho Education advocates want money for preschool

Idaho Education advocates want money for preschool
iStock/Pavel Losevsky

On the heels of a new report showing widespread support among voters for state investment in preschool, Idaho education advocates took to the Capitol Wednesday to draw attention to the importance of high-quality early learning.

Young children from local early learning programs and parents with their children gathered in the Rotunda for BLOCK Fest®, an interactive exhibit developed in Idaho that demonstrates the importance of early learning through play. Rotating through stations featuring blocks of different sizes, children created patterns, built structures and told stories.

“Young children learn through play. They need hands-on experiences to develop the early math, literacy and social skills needed to excel later in life,” said Beth Oppenheimer, executive director of the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children. “Block play is just one example of the kinds of active learning experiences that should be a part of every early learning program.”

Advocates argue that Idaho voters and parents recognize that these kinds of experiences are crucial for a child’s brain development. They cite a report released last month by the public opinion research firm Moore Information and Idaho AEYC. Nearly seven in ten of the voters and parents surveyed believe the state of Idaho should be doing more to ensure that children begin kindergarten with the knowledge and skills they need to do their best in school. Seventy-six percent of voters and 80% of parents said they support state investments in preschool.

“Idaho remains one of a handful of states that does not invest in preschool options for children 3 to 5 years old, and teachers statewide continue to see children entering kindergarten without the foundational skills they need to succeed,” Oppenheimer said. “We need quality, affordable, voluntary preschool options for Idaho families so that children can excel throughout school and throughout life.”

This is the fourth year that Idaho AEYC has hosted an Early Learning Legislative Day at the Capitol.