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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Top 5 Unexpected Benefits of Early Childhood Education

From The Edvocate

By Matthew Lynch
February 29, 2016

A trend is emerging when it comes to P-20 education: optional preschool is becoming a thing of the past. As a nation, we’re finally beginning to accept that preschool is beneficial—even necessary—for the success of most American children.

It’s why Obama has invested billions in early childhood education, and Presidential hopefuls such as Hillary Clinton are emphatic about preschool’s importance.

As someone who has extensively written about preschool-related initiatives on this site, I’ve seen enough to uncover some unexpected benefits that come from early childhood education, and I want to share a few of them with you:

1.) More preschool means a child is more prepared for Kindergarten.

A study has found that children who attend all-day preschool are much better prepared for Kindergarten than children who go to half-day programs.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs studied 1,000 3-and 4-year-olds enrolled in 11 Chicago schools. Students who attended preschool seven hours a day were compared to those who attended three hour programs, then tested at the commencement of preschool to see if they were socially and academically prepared to begin kindergarten.

The study found 59 percent of the students enrolled in the half-day program to be ready compared to 81 percent of the all-day preschool attendees.

2.) Even better, preschool means a child is more prepared for life.

Research shows that students who start the formal education experience, even one year earlier than Kindergarten, fare better long term in their academic careers.

3.) Preschool may be one key to correcting the achievement gap.

Remember the study mentioned in point #1? Well, in that same study, researchers discovered that 78 percent of white students were prepared to enter kindergarten compared to 74 percent of black children and 62 percent of Native American and Hispanic students.

Last year, Minnesota contributed $40 million in funding for pre-K scholarships for low- income families. Thanks to those dollars, 5,800 students were able to attend preschool. About 15,000 more students still need access to pre-K scholarships, but Minnesota made an important stride.

4.) Preschool can help the most at-risk ethnic group, Native Americans, achieve better success.

In education circles, we talk a lot about the way black and Latino students struggle in K-12 classrooms through a combination of cultural circumstances and inequality.

But the reality is that American Indian K-12 students are the most at-risk of any minority group for either dropping out of high school or never making it to college. The American Indian Fund reports that American Indians who earn a bachelor’s degree represent less than 1 percent of all of these degree earners.

It is not shocking then to realize that 28 percent of American Indians lived in poverty compared to 15 percent of the general population, according to 2010 U.S. Census figures. A college education opens doors for a higher quality of life.

However, the path to college starts long before the application process.

Fortunately, the American Indian College Fund’s Early Childhood Education program recognizes this. They sponsored a meeting which brought together 45 representatives from four American Indian tribal colleges who discussed strategies for better early childhood education and family involvement in the community.

The representatives looked at how the American Indian community can better prepare children for long-term academic success, targeting learning opportunities from birth to 8 years of age.

5.) Crime rates could drop in cities like Detroit—if more children went to preschool.

Jose Diaz of the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation conducted the study, “Cost Savings of School Readiness Per Additional At-Risk Child in Detroit and Michigan,” where the findings appear. The research was commissioned by the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, and it suggests that investing in early childhood education could cut Detroit’s crime rate and save taxpayers in the state millions of dollars, according to a story on the study by The Detroit News.

Detroit taxpayers would save around $96,000 for each child who was enrolled in a quality early education program and Michigan taxpayers would save $47,000 for each child.

The figure was derived from adding cost savings to special education, public assistance, childcare subsidies, the victims of crime and the criminal justice system. The majority of the savings would come from the criminal justice system.

Currently, only 4 percent of prisoners in Michigan under the age of 20 years old graduated from high school.

As it is right now, thirty eight states offer free, voluntary preschool learning programs and nearly 1.6 million low-income families receive assistance from the federal Child Care Development Fund to pursue early childhood education.

And imagine this: that fund is just one portion of President Obama’s $75 billion plan to expand early childhood learning in order to give American student a stronger foundation going into Kindergarten.

Granted, not everyone agrees with the idea of concentrating so much energy on early childhood education. Some critics think that universal preschool, for example, is just a way to add more education jobs (especially since some proponents want to insist that states accepting federal preschool dollars pay preschool teachers at the same rate as elementary ones).

But overall, I expect that in the next decade, our terminology will change from K-12 to PK-12 when we talk about student benchmarks. More states will lobby for pre-K funding and more families, from low- to high-income, will seek out early learning options to set their kids up for academic success.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent top 5 unexpected benefit of Early Childhood Education. Early childhood is a critical period of life in terms of a child's corporal, intelligent, emotional and collective development. Being as an academic writer and university dissertation writing services provider at Quality Assignment UK, I believe that early childhood education is a time when children mostly requirement great quality personal care, learning familiarities and encourage. Thanks.