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Early-Childhood Education

Research conclusively shows that high-quality early-childhood education is a critical factor in child development and long-term success. School systems and governments must adopt a holistic approach that considers not only education but also a child’s physical and emotional development.

Multiple studies have found that high-quality early-childhood education is a crucial factor in expanding opportunities for children across the socioeconomic spectrum and in creating stronger, safer local communities. The Annie E. Casey Foundation, for example, has found that children who are reading on grade level by the third grade are far more likely to graduate from high school than those who are not, and children who participate in high-quality early-childhood programs are significantly more likely to hold stable employment as adults. Other studies have found that high-quality early-childhood education can lead to dramatic long-term benefits for local communities, including:

  • Reduced crime and violence
  • Decreased school dropout rates
  • Decreased out-of-wedlock births
  • Decreased health care costs
  • Decreased special education referrals and placements

A Holistic Approach to Early-Childhood Education

Given what we know about the significant role that early-childhood education plays in childhood development, it’s important for school systems and governments to take a holistic approach that considers not only education but also a child’s physical and emotional development. So much childhood development happens outside the realm of formal schooling—in households, doctor’s offices, childcare centers, and through informal interactions with adults.

It’s time to reframe approaches to early-childhood education. Shift the focus from a narrow view of education to one that considers the development of the whole child. Replace the too-narrow emphasis on school-based pre-K programs for three- to four-year-olds with programs that span from birth through third grade. And rather than having early-childhood sectors operating in silos, move to a model that fosters and rewards collaboration among sectors, with the shared goal of children’s success and that of the community at-large.

Education
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