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Jan. 23: Early education, Parenting styles



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In this Sunday Edition, KSL's Nadine Wimmer discusses early childhood education, publicly-funded preschool and all-day kindergarten with educators and a lawmaker. Also, a new book addressing parenting styles has mothers talking. Parents share their insights and a psychologist offers advice for raising children.

Segment 1: Early childhood education

The 2010 Utah legislative session begins Jan. 24. According to a recent Dan Jones & Associates poll, Utahns say their priority is education and making sure kids can read by third grade. Educators say the best way to reach that goal is to start earlier. Some question whether that's the job of government or parents.

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Brenda Van Gorder, director of the Granite District Preschool program, McKell Withers, superintendent of the Salt Lake School District, and Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, discuss early childhood education.

Van Gorder explains why preschool is important.

"All the national research and all the research we have conducted right here in Salt Lake City is showing that children who are entering school behind stay behind," explains Van Gorder. "And so by having the children attend high-quality preschool programs where we can work on all of those skills that help them be prepared for school it really closes that gap, so that when they walk in through those kindergarten doors they are ready to access and zip off with the kindergarten curriculum."

The same applies to all-day kindergarten.


By having the children attend high-quality preschool programs where we can work on all of those skills that help them be prepared for school it really closes that gap, so that when they walk in through those kindergarten doors they are ready to access and zip off with the kindergarten curriculum.

–Brenda Van Gorder


"A full-day experience focused on those pre-reading skills can help a child close that gap between their peers who are ready to learn," Withers says. "So it's prevention that pays off in the long run."

The Salt Lake City School District all-day kindergarten program is very successful and in high demand.

Both Withers and Bramble discuss education as part of the community.

"The Legislature is focused on several of the areas... English language challenges, providing optional extended day kindergarten for at-risk children," says Bramble. "I think there's a balance between when government should step in and provide the resources and when some of the responsibility rests with the families, and then you have to recognize that not all children have a family environment that would get that kind of nurturing and educational opportunities at home."

"Government is a community," Withers explains. "We decide how we want those resources that we collect from each other to be invested in our lives all the time, and investing those resources with children in thoughtful ways, in ways that not only open doors for them to be successful in school, but we want them to be ready for college, we want them to be ready for adult live, we want them to be able to compete at the international level, not just the state and national level."

Segment 2: Tiger moms and soccer moms

Imagine raising your children with no play dates, TV, sleepovers or extracurricular activities -- while expecting perfect grades in school. A new book about a strict way of parenting has moms talking and national newspaper editorials debating. Amy Chua's book, "Battle Hymn of a Tiger Mother," has caused a stir.

Ya Liu and Frank Fu have three children, ages 16, 14 and 9. The family focuses on school work and excelling in piano performance as well as different sports.

The Fu children have all won piano competitions and get straight As. They do allow sleepovers. They focus their efforts on teaching their children hard work and manners. If their children came home with a B grade, the family would have a serious discussion and find out what is wrong.


I think it's important to let them choose what they want to do. It's not something that is demanded of them.

–Claudia Nielson


Claudia Nielson and her husband have six children, ages 18 to 6. The children are involved in sports, music, acting and dance.

"I think it's important to let them choose what they want to do," says Nielson. "It's not something that is demanded of them."

The Nielsons try to support their children with their activity choices and help find them good teachers.

"You look at the whole person, you look at how they are doing academically, socially, as a whole person," Nielson explains.

Segment 3: Raising children

Is there one right way to raise children? University of Utah psychology professor Cynthia Berg offers advice on how to help our children be successful and happy.

"There are different components of parenting," explains Berg. "One of them involves how warm you are and how accepting you are. Another is how controlling you are. And another is how much you grant autonomy. The positive aspect of parenting is when you combine high warmth and acceptance with moderate control, as well as high autonomy granting. So allowing the kid to be involved, to know what they are doing and monitoring their behavior, but also do that in a very warm way, which seems to be very good for all kinds of outcomes."

Berg also discusses cultural differences and similarities.

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