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Understanding the Importance of Early Childhood Education

Child Care Director Resources

28th January 2021

There is a Tibetan proverb that reads, “a child without education is a bird without wings.” The sentiment is one that sends a simple yet powerful message: Each child is capable of success if we just harness their potential. The formation of these proverbial wings, however, happens earlier than you might suspect. Early childhood education — a period of learning that starts at birth and continues to age eight — has an impact on early learners that lasts well into adulthood. It might seem obvious, but it’s important to understand why early childhood education is important. Let’s break down the various ways that the quality of an early learner’s education echoes throughout a child’s adult life.

Higher Test Scores & Graduation Rates

At its most fundamental level, early childhood education lays foundational knowledge that is built upon throughout the years of a student’s academic career. But in addition to that, a quality early education also ignites curiosity and a love of learning. Also, by helping with the development of social skills and improving concentration, early childhood education instills lasting qualities that help ensure well-rounded success in life. While in the moment teaching these skills can feel daunting, it contributes to academic success down the road.

The National Bureau of Economic Research conducted a study that looked into the long term effects of the Head Start program, a comprehensive early childhood education program by the US Department of Health and Human Services that dates back to 1965. The study compared those that attended Head Start and those that didn’t and found profound effects from the program, including increased graduation rates and increased college attendance. A review of several early childhood education studies showed that attendants of these programs also had higher IQs and test scores.

Income Gains & Other Benefits

When you’re looking into the various options for early childhood education — which includes child care — you might begin to wonder if the price tag of these programs is worth it. Even though you want the best for your child, preschool programs and child care cost money, making the decision a financial one. Luckily, there is research out there that answers this question and shows that these programs positively benefit children in the long run. A study by the National Institute of Health showed that even a small investment in a child’s early education had a result on their earnings later in life. In fact, it found that for every dollar spent on an early childhood education program, $4 to $11 was seen over a child’s lifetime. The same research also showed that early childhood education programs led to significantly lower rates of serious crime, child abuse, neglect, and incarceration.

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More Self-esteem & Self-control

Another study conducted by the nonprofit policy organization Brookings Institution found the Head Start program produced similar results.. In addition, that study also found that adults who had gone through the program as a child had better self-control and stronger self-esteem than those who hadn’t gone through the program. Furthermore, those adults who had children reportedly had increased positive parenting practice — an indicator that early childhood education lays the groundwork to not only benefit individual children, but potentially having a long term effect on generations of children, bettering our society as a whole.

Better Long-term Health

When looking into the effects of early childhood education, academic achievement usually ends up being the focus. However, these programs also affect a student’s physical wellbeing throughout their life. One study found that early learners who went through these early childhood education programs had positive long-term health outcomes later in their life. When you think about it, that really shouldn’t come as a shock. Many early childhood education programs pack in a wealth of learning material and behavior reinforcement around nutrition, exercise, and healthy living. To some, this is one of the most beneficial outcomes of these early learner programs. While academic success and career strides are important, it’s easy to see how setting your child up for a long and healthy life is also a win.


Next Step: Choosing the Right Path

With all of the positive impacts of early childhood education programs, it’s easy to see how opting for an early childhood education program sets your child up for a better life and ultimately helps create a better world for the next generation. The next step, then, is to learn which is the best option for you and your young learner. Preschool is a good option for some children. Around the country, there are several common learning models to choose from, one of which may sound perfect for your child. Microschools, which have also been called “pandemic pods,” are also a great option. And don’t discount child care, which is another form of early childhood education that equips your child with the tools they need to succeed in life. You may even decide to start your own program. If you’re looking for more resources to help you choose the right early childhood education program for your child, don’t hesitate to contact us at Wonderschool.