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The Importance of Early Childhood Education
Children learn every second of their lives. From using a fork and building sandcastles to reading and socializing, proper guidance in the form of quality early childhood education can make a big difference.
Results that children and adults achieve in school and beyond don’t just depend on their natural talents. Early childhood education is an important factor.
Besides acquiring basic skills, preschoolers need to learn how to socialize, share, and form relationships. By learning this early, kids will have a much easier time interacting with their peers and teachers while acquiring a strong foundation for a fulfilling trip to adulthood.
Here is what UNESCO has to say about it:
“Early childhood care and education (ECCE) is more than preparation for primary school. It aims at the holistic development of a child’s social, emotional, cognitive and physical needs in order to build a solid and broad foundation for lifelong learning and wellbeing. ECCE has the possibility to nurture caring, capable and responsible future citizens.”
Simply put, early childhood education (ECE) helps children gain the necessary academic, emotional, and social skills to prosper in school and beyond.
The Abecedarian Project: Why is Early Childhood Education Important?
The Abecedarian Project is a long-term study that monitors the benefits of ECE. It follows children born between 1972 and 1977. As infants, these participants were divided into two groups: those who received early education and those who didn’t.
Researchers followed both groups from infancy to their forties. Kids from the first group:
- Demonstrated higher IQ scores through the age of 15.
- Scored higher on math and reading achievement tests in elementary and secondary school.
- Had fewer placements in special education classes.
- Were more likely to attend a 4-year college or university.
- Were less likely to become teen parents, use drugs, or succumb to depression.
- Were more likely to hold a job and a bachelor’s degree at the age of 30.
- Had a lower incidence of hypertension in their mid-thirties.
These impressive results speak highly of early childhood education. Similar research, like the Perry Preschool Project, demonstrated similar results.
Let’s take a look at other benefits of educating children before they enter kindergarten.
1. Exploring Brain Capacity
Between birth and the fifth birthday, a child’s brain develops more than at any other stage of their life. A brain completes 90% of its growth before the kid enters kindergarten. It’s imperative to take full advantage of this period to ensure educational success in the future.
The study “The Early Catastrophe: The 30 Million Word Gap by Age 3” showed that children (under 3) from wealthy families knew 30 million more words than kids from poorer families. The reason is simple. The size of a child’s vocabulary depends on how many words adults use when speaking to them.
Without ECE, kids simply don’t have as many to build their brain’s capacity to its fullest.
2. Acquiring Social Skills
Socializing with people other than family is an integral part of childhood education. Learning how to interact with others, be it peers or teachers, can simplify the education process in the future.
Early socialization requires adult participation and modeling. Learning how to share and cooperate is an integral part of social life. When it’s done with professional guidance, children can benefit greatly.
The skills gained in a safe learning environment won’t just help children socialize in school. They can improve their relationship with parents and go a long way toward gaining self-confidence.
3. Understanding the Fun of Learning
Children are always learning, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be hard. If children aren’t prepared for the process, they can lose all their natural enthusiasm. As a result, these kids could have a tough time in elementary school and beyond.
Early childhood education professionals know how to give lessons in a fun and exciting way. Once children figure out that learning can be exciting and rewarding, they can accept the challenges that the process brings and enjoy being active learners.
4. Improving Concentration
Young children have short attention spans. Their desire to discover new things often leaves them unable to concentrate on something for a long time. Early childhood education programs give them the opportunity to discover new environments, experiences, and connections while working on their ability to focus.
By the time children go to kindergarten, they know how to listen, participate in group tasks, follow directions, and concentrate on individual projects.
5. Investing in Health
Early childhood education has both short and long-term health benefits for children. Short-term benefits stem from health interventions that usually come as part of the early education package. Preschoolers in daycare centers or other child care programs tend to undergo regular health screenings and receive nutritious meals.
Long-term benefits stem from higher income and reduced chances of risky behavior (drug use, early pregnancies, etc.), which lead to less stress and easier access to high-quality healthcare services.
How Society Benefits from Early Childhood Education
Besides being highly beneficial for children and their parents, ECE has impressive benefits for society:
- Better health — lower public health costs and reduction of welfare programs.
- Fewer committed crimes — less expenditure on the criminal justice system.
- Higher income — higher tax returns and less spending on social security programs.
- Higher labor market participation — lower poverty levels.
Early education for children can have a profound impact on society. This should result in:
- Better funding for early childhood education programs
- Improved staff training and working conditions
- Higher quality of early education provision
Early education has already become an integral part of our society’s existence. However, public funding for ECE programs has been historically very limited, and not nearly available enough to families who could use the support. With increased awareness of ECE benefits, and with corresponding increases in state and federal funding, . Early learning opportunities can become more accessible to children from all backgrounds and income levels. Every child needs access to high quality ECE.
As the child’s brain develops, the lack of proper early education could turn into missed opportunities in school and beyond. Studies show that children with access to ECE tend to achieve more in life than those who don’t.
Why is early childhood education important? It gives children a priceless opportunity to take full advantage of their potential, skills, and talents. Besides individual benefits, early childhood education has a positive impact on society as a whole.