Pre-K programs are widely acknowledged to contribute significant advantages to those who participate. Pre-schoolers are not only better prepared for kindergarten when they enter, but they have advantages at all stages of their educational and professional lives. Children who participate in pre-k programs have a 15% better chance of graduating high school and a 20% better chance of enrolling in a four-year college than those who do not participate in pre-k. After school, pre-K students earn higher incomes, are more likely to own a home, and are more likely to be and remain employed. These benefits are due to the early start pre-k children get in socialization, self-discipline, and fundamental literacy and language skills.
While the advantages of pre-K depend significantly on the presence of trained classroom teachers and the social interactions between students, facets of pre-K programming can be delivered in other contexts, including digitally. Because many states are unable to fund statewide pre-K, online solutions, which weigh in at considerably lower costs, provide attractive alternatives. In 2014, Utah began optional use of a digital pre-K literacy program that serves about 20% of Utah families; other states, such as South Carolina and Idaho, began piloting online pre-K in 2015. While digital pre-K programming cannot hope to achieve the same levels of social learning that face to face programs provide, data show significant improvements in language skills such as phonics and vocabulary, especially for at-risk children. Online preschool programs also provide practice with routine and organized tasks, exposure to language, and early experience with digital platforms.