Mar 24

How Important Is Early Childhood Education?

Expanding access to high quality early childhood education is one of the smartest investments that we can make as a country.  In the early years of a child’s life, when the brain is forming, there is an important window of opportunity to develop a child’s full potential and shape key academic, social, and cognitive skills that determine a child’s success in school and life.  Researchers are indicating that the future of every child is mostly determined before he or she turns 8.



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Below is a little more information on Early Childhood Education thanks to Nationswell.com



What is early childhood education, exactly?


The very definition of early childhood education varies greatly among organizations, schools and governments. The National Association for the Education of Young Children, the world’s largest advocacy organization devoted to early childhood learning, defines it as high-quality programs — emphasis on “high quality” — geared toward children from birth to age 8 (or third grade). Increasingly, many colleges are expanding their early-education programs to include learning techniques for infants and toddlers. However, many states, as well as the federal government, focus early-education initiatives primarily on preschool or prekindergarten (3- or 4-year-olds).

Why is early childhood education so important?


Research has shown that much of what you need to succeed in life is established before you enter kindergarten. During that time, the human brain undergoes rapid development; it’s a period when a child builds cognitive skills — the foundation for reading, math, science and academics — as well as character skills, social-emotional growth, gross-motor skills and executive functioning, which includes everything from impulse control to problem solving.

“There’s an explosion of activity in the first five years of life, more profound than any future years,” says Rhian Evans Allvin, executive director of the National Association for the Education of Young Children. “If we can capitalize on that and maximize the support and learning opportunities, then we really stand a good chance of setting young children on a trajectory of success.”

What demographics benefit most from early-education programs?


Every child benefits from early learning, whether it’s practiced in a formal school setting or at home with parents or caregivers. However, research — most notably the HighScope Perry Preschool Study, which tracked the lives of 123 young children born into poverty — has shown that kids from low-income and disadvantaged communities have even more to gain from early education.

In this study, which began in 1962, 3- and 4-year-olds were divided into two groups: One received high-quality preschool programming and one did not. By age 40, those who had attended preschool had higher earnings, were more likely to hold a job, had committed fewer crimes and were more likely to have graduated from high school than adults who did not attend preschool.

How can we make early childhood education more accessible?

Experts say that Americans are talking more about early childhood education than ever before. But so far the discussion isn’t translating to an increase in programs or attendance. According to The State of Preschool 2013, an annual report by the National Institute for Early Education Research, only 28 percent of the country’s 4-year-olds and 4 percent of 3-year-olds were enrolled in a state-funded preschool program in the 2012-13 school year — the same percentage as 2012. In fact, the actual number of 4-year-olds enrolled dropped by 9,000 between 2012 and 2013. Overall, the 2012 Current Population Survey found that nearly half of all 3- and 4-year-olds did not attend any preschool — public or private — between 2010 and 2012, a statistic that’s held steady since 2006.

Every child deserves the same opportunity in life 🙂