WASHINGTON (AP) -- A major study of Head Start programs has determined there's no choice to be made between teaching preschoolers ABCs or teaching them how to play with others.
They need both.
The leader of the study says academic and social skills are intertwined. Penn State University psychology professor Karen Bierman says if preschools focus solely on numbers and letters "they're really missing the engine that's going to drive the desire and motivation for learning."
The study involved putting one set of Head Start students in an enrichment program that used puppets and stories to teach problem-solving skills.
They also received more intense reading instruction, in which teachers asked questions after each page to work on vocabulary and comprehension and played listening games to work out discrete sounds in words.
The preschoolers in the program scored higher on tests of school readiness.
The results are in the journal Child Development.