Children’s Institute report shows growth and challenges for pre-K students
More than three years since COVID-19 reached the Rochester area, pre-kindergartners are bouncing back from some of the wider-reaching challenges that the pandemic presented.
A recent Children’s Institute report shows that Rochester students have shown resiliency and growth despite setbacks and exceptional life circumstances caused by the pandemic.
The latest Rochester Early Childhood Assessment Partnership report shows key insights into how the pandemic has shaped young learners’ experiences this past school year.
“Things that are happening outside the classroom and outside the school influence what's happening in the school,” said Ann Marie White, executive director of the Children’s Institute, which published the report.
White said 3- and 4-year-old students who hadn’t had much experience with social interactions during the pandemic demonstrated greater difficulty with peer social skills. Between 36% and 40% of students showed multiple social emotional concerns.
"How well you're able to say what you need when you're playing, for instance, if you haven't had a lot of time to be interacting with other peers, we could imagine that that would be influencing how they’ve been doing those same actions in a classroom,” White said.
It’s one thing to know the challenges, she said, and it’s another to respond effectively to them.
“What we're working on, for instance, is bringing in some more directed play approaches, where children have an opportunity to develop those skills in a more targeted way, with an adult who's specially trained to be helping support them,” she said.
For Spanish-speaking pre-K students, their language skill development in English was heavily influenced by the type of classroom they were in.
According to the report, pre-K English language learners showed more growth particularly in English language skills in bilingual classrooms — like those offered at Ibero Early Childhood Services — compared with other classrooms.
“We are proud of the uninterrupted services we have been able to provide to our rising kindergartners, helping them stay on track,” Ida Perez, director of Ibero Early Childhood Services, said in a statement. “Our ability to work with children of all stages and ages helps us meet children where they are. Whether it’s helping a 3- and sometimes a 4-year-old with potty training or building the social and emotional skills they need to succeed, our teachers work hard.”
About 70 students in Rochester attended one of four official bilingual pre-K classrooms last school year, according to the Children's Institute report. Researchers suggest maintaining and growing bilingual pre-K programs.