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Job training

Started: 2012-09-29 11:49:43

Submitted: 2012-09-29 12:32:52

Visibility: World-readable

Last week at Calvin's preschool I received a glimpse into the reason why preschool is an effective job-training program.

Calvin has been having some minor discipline problems lately. For the most part, he's simply testing his limits to figure out exactly what he can get away with, but sometimes he gets hyper and we're not sure how to calm him down, and every once and a while he bites or kicks or hits when things don't go exactly his way. We scheduled a meeting with Calvin's preschool teacher to discuss the situation (and to learn what she does in the classroom to control not just one but an entire squad of preschoolers) and talked about instilling self-regulation in Calvin and helping him understand precisely what was expected of him. I left with an appreciation of how preschool instills soft skills: Calvin is surrounded by people who know what "self-regulating" means, and why it's important, and how to instill self-regulation.

(To be fair, the follow-up research suggests that the effects of preschool are much more significant in the lower income brackets, and vanish into the noise at higher income brackets, probably because higher-income people have the time and energy to devote to soft skills. Whether or not Calvin were in preschool, we'd still care deeply about building essential soft skills, but having teachers with masters degrees in early childhood development doesn't hurt.)

Sometimes I ask Calvin about the human capital he acquired that day, but he doesn't tend to appreciate that. I haven't yet told him that he's enrolled in a cleverly-disguised job-training program; I'm not sure he'd appreciate that either. (We have told him that we expect him to go to college, and he says he doesn't want to go anywhere. I'd tell him that he doesn't have to go to college for another fifteen years, but that's five times his current lifespan, which I expect would be pretty much incomprehensible.)