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Young children learn many language social and practical skills in preschool that benefit them immediately and also enhance their chances for future achievement For poor children preschool helps to offset the social emotional physical and cognitive burdens that can result from their living situation For those who speak little or no English preschool can provide a valuable bilingual education In recognition of the benefits of early childhood education increased Federal funds have recently become available for preschool programs and for incorporating transition-to-school activities into them Nevertheless Hispanic parents have been slow to overcome their historical reluctance to turn their young children over to non-family members for care Nearly half of Hispanic mothers stay at home to raise their children Even parents who need child care frequently prefer using relatives rather than a preschool given the size and Strength of extended Hispanic families and traditional deep concerns about child safety Also many Hispanic families cannot afford private preschools According to one survey with findings similar to many others less than 26 percent of the 313000 Hispanic 3- and 4-year-old children attended nursery school in 1994 whereas nearly 43 percent of all children in the US did so Thus Hispanic children may enter kindergarten without the academic preparation that their peers have and without the good educational start that would provide them with a positive attitude toward school and a sense of themselves as intellectual beings Indeed the dropout rate among Hispanic youth is among the highest of the ethnic groups in the US and many of those who do graduate from high school have not acquired the kinds of skills that will lead to greater employment opportunities The educational boost that preschool provides is particularly important for the one quarter of Hispanic families that are poor by Federal guidelines While Hispanic families are like others in that they want their children to succeed in school poverty can seriously impede childrens academic success and their
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