The number of children attending preschool in South Dakota is going up, but the state still sits behind the national average in attendance.
The 2014 Kids Count profile for South Dakota reveals a potentially alarming statistic that over 60-percent of children in South Dakota aren't attending pre-school.
"I think there's always room for an improvement. We are, right now, a little more than 50-percent full in our classrooms in our pre-school," Lynn Peterson said.
Lynn Peterson works with children each day at Apple Tree Children's Center and sees first-hand the important role that level of education can be.
"It helps teach you your social skills before getting into kindergarten. It helps teach you those basic steps so when they are in Kindergarten, they can work a little bit more," Peterson said.
"It kind of teaches them how to learn how to be a student. They can learn social skills, to be imaginative," Trish Hanisch said.
Hanisch says the small activities that kids do in pre-school that seem like playing are key in a child's development. For Peterson, it's all part of the South Dakota Early Learning guidelines that introduces kids to science, music and organized physical activity.
"I don't think it's really changed, but I think it's becoming more in depth. Just being able to know a little bit more," Peterson said.
While the number of children not in pre-school is high, Hanisch says the statistics may be deceiving. Daycare facilities, and even families in their own home, are learning the same skills.
"They need to look for something that has a pre-school component to it where the child is going to learn some of these pre-skills, social, imagination, but they're able to do those same things at home," Hanisch said.
South Dakota ranks 17th overall in the Kids Count profile, looking closely at economics, education, health, family and community.