SOUTHERN ILLINOIS (KFVS) - Right now, enrolling your child in pre-K is optional but the president wants to change all that for future generations.
As part of his state of the union address, President Barack Obama has promised a "big push" for his proposal to provide pre-K for all 4-year olds.
"Gabe, can you tell me who the president is today?," asks Mary Landt, a pre-kindergarten teacher.
"Barack Obama," her student correctly answers.
And it's President Obama who wants children just like Gabe to go to pre-kindergarten.
And some parents are already on board.
"I've noticed within the last 6-months a lot of development happening," says Kellie Schimpf, a parent whose child is enrolled in pre-Kindergarten.
"He went from counting one to 39, to one to 100," she says.
Which are big steps in a four-year old learning progress according to Landt.
Steps he might not have reached until Kindergarten.
"Pre-K is so very important it really is," says Landt
Who has been teaching Pre-K for 20 years.
"Letters and shapes and numbers are in place usually by the time kindergarten starts, it's just a very good way in entering kindergarten," she says.
President Barack Obama says having the world's best education system starts with early childhood education.
"It gets them out and gets them socialized and gets the learning process started a lot sooner," says Schimpf.
The president backs his proposal with studies show that pre-K students are less like to become teen parents and more likely to attend college.
But for now, these kids are just learning the basics.
"What did you say it was?," asks Landt to her student.
"A play-doh," answers one of her students.