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Catholic Preschool Programs Are Area of Growth, Opportunity, and Responsibility

Written by William Schmitt on Monday, 08 April 2013.

Faculty's Jim Frabutt Tells NCEA and Radio Audiences about His Research

The number of four-year-olds in early-childhood education programs in the United States has skyrocketed from about 127,000 in the 1960s to 2.7 million today, says Dr. Jim Frabutt, a member of the faculty in ACE’s Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program. Catholic schools are sharing in that trend and in the emerging opportunities, he adds.

Frabutt, who discussed his research on the topic in a presentation last week to the National Catholic Educational Association’s annual convention, says pre-kindergarten programs are “a real growth area in Catholic education.” He spoke on the Son Rise Morning Show, giving a national Catholic radio network audience a glimpse at the NCEA presentation he gave with Rachel Waldron, a graduate of the Remick Leadership Program.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for family evangelization,” Frabutt told Morning Show anchor Brian Patrick on Friday, April 5. He said research on Catholic preschool programs in 15 arch/dioceses, including interviews with diocesan superintendents, uncovered not only growth in the programs, but nearly unanimous hope that this would help Catholic schools reach out to parents of these young children in the spirit of the New Evangelization.

At the same time, the opportunity to connect these children and their parents to Catholic schools and the Church spotlights the need to further “professionalize” the teaching and operation of the pre-K programs, Frabutt added. As with all Catholic schooling, the programs must serve the development of the whole child, including cognitive, emotional, social, and moral growth.

Regarding pre-school education, he said, “we need to invest in the people who are delivering it and the skill with which we’re doing so.”

Frabutt is the author of a new book—Beyond Academics: Supporting the Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Health of Students in Catholic Schoolson Catholic schools’ attention to development of the whole child.       

The NCEA presentation by Frabutt and Waldron was titled “Educating the Youngest Hearts and Minds: The Landscape of Catholic Preschool Education.”

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