Preschool attendance of very young children: Parents’ choice and outcome satisfaction

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Abstract

This empirical study focused on parents who enrolled their two-year old children in preschools in the Czech Republic. Recent provision of the Ministry of Education recommended that preschools accept children who are as young as two years, in response to increased demands of mothers who want to re-enter the employment after maternity leave. The purpose of the study was to examine the reasons of parents to place their children in preschools as well as their satisfaction of the developmental progress of their children in this institution. A representative sample of parents who enrolled their children in preschool from age two was surveyed (N=520). Surprisingly, caring for the child while at work was not the most important reason. They rated it 3.66 on a five-point scale. Other reasons were rated higher: getting the child accustomed to interaction within groups of same-age children (M=4.01), acquiring cognitive skills and knowledge (M=3.89), and getting accustomed to a routine other than that found at home (M=3.75). When asked to assess the developmental progress of their children due to preschool attendance on a 3-point scale, the parents noted progress in communication ability (M=2.35), social skills (M=2.37) as well as overall progress (M=2.62). Concerning demographic characteristics, the estimate of the child’s overall progress in preschool was significantly related to the mother’s level of education and her marital status.

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