When I first looked into my son’s eyes, I knew: I was lucky.
But I also knew that raising a child that is prepared for emotional, physical, and academic success wouldn’t be easy. Enrolling my son in a high-quality early learning program would promote his learning and development, making his prospects in school and in life that much brighter.
Here are the top ten reasons why you should consider enrolling your child in high-quality early education:
- About 70 percent of the brain is developed by age one and 90 percent is developed by age three. It is during these early years that genes interact with experience, providing a foundation—weak or strong—for all future learning, behavior, and health.
- Preschool-aged children have the ability to learn more, and faster, than you might think. Kids have an innate number sense that, by preschool, makes them ready to start learning math.
- The early years are important in shaping the long-term health and success of our children and our communities. Economist James Heckman analyzed research of a decades-long study that began in 1972. He found that kids who received full-day care—along with meals, games, and activity—are actually healthier as adults, with lower rates of high blood pressure and obesity, than kids who didn’t receive such services.
- Well-qualified caregivers and educators are fundamental to high-quality early learning programs. As a parent, you can have peace of mind knowing that your child is safe, and with adults who know how to support your child’s early development.
- Supportive learning environments are vital at every juncture—especially during the first five years of your child’s life. Great early learning programs can be tailored for our youngest children, whose brains develop important connections during their formative years.
- Studies demonstrate that children who have rich early learning experiences are better prepared to thrive in kindergarten and beyond.
- Preschool can help your child to achieve school readiness goals—setting him or her up with skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary for success in school and life.
- Early and regular check-ins and assessments can help families track and celebrate their child’s developmental milestones, and ensure that their children get early and specialized support, if needed.
- High-quality early learning is critical to sustaining our country’s economic competitiveness. Children in countries as diverse as Mexico, France, and Singapore have a better chance of receiving preschool education than do children in the United States.
- There is a growing recognition that quality matters tremendously when it comes to early learning. Programs that are high-quality have high staff qualifications, including a bachelor of arts for teachers; professional development for teachers and staff; low staff-child ratios and small class sizes; a full-day program; and more.
The U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services continue to support the expansion of high-quality preschool programs through the Preschool Development Grants (PDG) competition.
These grants will assist states in building or enhancing their preschool program infrastructure and will help to expand high-quality preschool programs to more 4-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families. Look out for more information about the PDG program now that grants have been awarded. You’ll be able to find out if your community will benefit.
All children—not just some—should have access to high-quality early learning opportunities that prepare them for success in school and beyond. I know that is what I want for my child.
Monica Bates is an Information Resource Specialist in the Office of Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education.