Yes, There are Online Preschools. And Early Childhood Experts Say They Stink.

by Nancy Carlsson-Paige

Defending the Early Years publication in The Washington Post

The Washington PostValerie Strauss, in The Answer Sheet in The Washington Post, publishes Nancy’s op-ed about online preschools with additional comments.


In February 2015 I wrote a post with this headline: “And now, online preschools. Really.”

Given that medical experts warn against too much screen time for young children, and given that early childhood experts say the best way for young children to learn is through structured play, it might have seemed that online preschools didn’t have much of a future.

Guess again.

As early childhood education has increasingly become focused on what is called “rigor,” or an academic focus, which means that kids spend a lot of time in chairs, online preschools have gained a foothold. In 2015, Utah sponsored the first state-funded online “preschool” of its kind, called UPSTART. And the company has expanded pilot programs to at least seven other states, according to the nonprofit Defending the Early Years, which commissions research about early childhood education and advocates for sane policies for young children.

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