Lawrence preschools are part of a statewide pre-kindergarten pilot program that some hope will eventually be available to all 4-year-olds in the state.
The first kindergarten was established in 1856. And, early childhood education has been gaining ground ever since. As researchers publish more and more findings that critical learning and developmental skills are formed years before kindergarten, the push for educating children earlier has grown. Here's a timeline of some of the key events that has brought the early childhood education movement to where it is today.
1837: German Friedrich Froebel develops the first kindergarten. The classroom is centered on the idea that play was needed for children to learn.
1856: Margarethe Meyer Schurz, a German immigrant, introduces the first American kindergarten in Watertown, Wis. The children learn through arts and crafts, music and play. The model quickly spreads.
1940s: During War World II, women flood the workplace, filling roles left vacant by men fighting overseas. The federal government creates more than 3,000 child care centers.
1960: David Weikart opens Perry Elementary School, which focuses on children "learning by doing." The school is interested in reaching students that the system had traditionally failed.
1965: The federally funded Head Start program begins. Focusing on low-income families, the program provides education, health, nutrition and parent involvement services to preschool-aged children.
1970s: The feminist movement and a poor economy combined to see a boom of mothers entering the work force.
1980s and 1990s: Advances in research points to the importance of critical brain development between the ages of birth and 3. Early childhood education gains momentum.
1990: Oklahoma voters pass an education reform bill that provides state funding for any school district that offers preschool to 4-year-olds qualifying under Head Start. Children who didn't meet the low-income guidelines also could attend, but they had to pay. In 1998, a bill is passed providing funding for all 4-year-olds regardless of income.
2006: Kansas implements a $2 million pilot pre-K program in six counties. It expands to 12 counties the following year, including six classrooms in Douglas County.
2008: Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius highlights the importance of early childhood education in her State of the State address. For the 2009 budget, she proposes a $30 million increase toward programs that boost learning for those age 5 and younger.