The years from birth to age 5 are viewed as a critical period for developing the foundations for thinking, behaving, and emotional well-being. Child development experts indicate it is during these years that children develop linguistic, cognitive, social, emotional, and regulatory skills that predict their later functioning in many domains.
A study by Georgetown University and a study by the National Institutes of Health (USA) highlight the positive effects of high quality early childhood education. According to the research from Georgetown University, eighth graders who attended Oklahoma’s universal pre-K program as 4 year olds had higher math scores, were more likely to enroll in honor classes, and were less likely to repeat a grade than those who did not attend. In kindergarten, students who attended the program were nine months ahead in reading, seven months ahead in writing, and five months ahead in math, these effects were especially strong among English-language learners.
The results of this study show that the positive effects of a high quality pre-K program are evident as late as middle school.
In addition, high quality early childhood education has also been linked to college success. According to the research from the National Institutes of Health, children who participated in an intensive childhood education program in Chicago from preschool to third grade were more likely to get a college degree than their peers who did not. Children who attended the Child-Parent Centers program, which provides intensive instruction in reading and math, combined with frequent field trips from pre-kindergarten through third grade, were more likely as adults to achieve an associate’s degree of higher.
Children are born learning and have the innate capacity to succeed. Both studies show that how well children learn in the early years sets the stage for the rest of their lives and that the quality of children’s early childhood experiences affects how well they learn. We, as a society, must envision and implement an early learning agenda that begins at birth. The New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute works to ensure access to excellence for ALL young children by working with early childhood organizations locally, across the state, and around the country to create and enhance comprehensive early childhood systems serving children from birth through age 8.