DEY Responds to Utah Senator’s Guest Essay on Online “Preschool”

Senator Stuart Adams of Utah recently endorsed Waterford Upstart Online “preschool” programs.

We disagree and we sent a letter explaining why!

Recently, Senator Stuart Adams, President of the Utah Senate, wrote a guest essay about his endorsement of the Waterford UPSTART online “preschool” program

The essay appeared in the 2-28-20 issue of Deseret News.

Like many well-intentioned, but uninformed lawmakers, he believes that he and his fellow senators have found a low-cost alternative to brick and mortar preschools with well-trained teachers and an engaging curriculum.

Unfortunately, we at Defending the Early Years and other early childhood educators know that this is not the case.

In fact, such online programs are actually harmful.

DEY Director Blakely Bundy wrote to Senator Adams explaining why online “preschool” is not a viable alternative to real preschool.

  • Young children learn best through hands on, exploratory, creative play and loving relationships with supportive, well-trained adults. This cannot be duplicated on a screen.

Higher-order thinking skills and executive functions essential for school success, such as task persistence, impulse control, emotion regulation, and creative, flexible thinking, are best taught through unstructured and social (not digital) play.

—The American Academy of Pediatric

  • Research shows that screen overuse by young children puts them at risk for behavioral problems, obesity, delays in social emotional development, and sleep deprivation. While some children may show short-term gains in their ability to recognize letters, numbers, and other rote learning, the gains are short-lived and come at the expense of infringing on time used for beneficial activities, such as child-directed, creative play, enriching interactions with other children and adults, lap reading, and time outdoors.
  • Using public funds for such programs means that there are even fewer dollars available for appropriate brick and mortar schools or alternative programs to reach children in remote areas, such as home visiting programs or “preschool on wheels.”
  • Children from low-income areas are even more likely to be offered such programs, while economically advantaged children attend appropriate preschool programs with well-qualified teachers, well-appointed classrooms, and engaging curriculum.
  • Waterford UPSTART falsely claims to be aligned with accreditation standards established by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). See There’s No Such Thing as Online Preschool.

Read her full letter here: Letter to Senator Adams of Utah 3-10-20