Why is Quality Pre-K Education Important?
ALL children – regardless of the home or income background – benefit from early education. According to the Center for Public Education Studies in multiple states show that children of all racial groups who receive quality Pre-K education exceed norms in Kindergarten academic standards.
Brain Development is Critical:
90% of a child’s brain development happens in the first five years of life, according to Zero to Three. Starting early education is incredibly important in ensuring the healthy development of your child. According to the Urban Child Institute, the number of neurons in a baby’s brain doubles in the first year of life and reaches 80% by the time the child is three years old. This is why it is important to recognize that parents are a child’s first teacher – there is so much you can teach your child before they enter school! And, the more they learn before they begin Kindergarten, the better equipped they are to succeed once they are there.
Children learn to socialize in Pre-K programs. They learn how to respect others, how to solve problems, how to follow instructions. This leads to greater independence as they grow. As children socialize with each other, they play with other children instead of next to other children. According to advice by the American Academy of Pediatrics, playing together is important, since “you can look forward to less aggressive behavior and calmer play sessions. Often, three-year-olds are able to work out their own solutions to disputes by taking turns or trading toys.”
Children who receive quality Pre-K education are more likely to enter Kindergarten ready to succeed in school. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, “One of the best predictors of whether a child will function competently in school and go on to contribute actively in our increasingly literate society is the level to which the child progresses in reading and writing… the early childhood years – from birth through age eight – are the most important period for literacy development.” Children learn pre-reading skills in Pre-K that allow them to later excel as readers.
Individual and Health Outcomes:
Children who receive comprehensive early learning experiences have better outcomes than children who didn't. They receive more education, have better health, and, as adults, tend to have higher employment and income. According to Dr. James Heckman, “positive early childhood experiences result in better physical health from childhood to the adult years….” Correlational studies show quality early childhood development reduces the incidence of obesity and hypertension.
Meeting Critical Benchmarks:
Students who do not have access to early quality education are less likely to enter kindergarten ready to succeed. If your child enters kindergarten prepared, he/she is more likely to be a proficient reader by the end of third grade. This means he/she is four times more likely to graduate from high school on time with their peers compared to a child who wasn't a proficient reader by the end of third grade. According to report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation called “Early Warning Confirmed,” among people who finish high school, work full time, and marry before having children, “only about 2 percent of this group ends up in poverty.”
Children who do not attend early childhood education programs are 70% more likely to be arrested for a violent crime, according to ThinkProgress. Furthermore, the Economic Opportunity Institute highlights longitudinal developmental studies from Chicago. Children ages 3-4 who did not participate in the Child-Parent Center preschools were 70% more likely to be arrested for a violent crime by age 18. Law enforcement agrees, too. Officials frequently cite early education as one of the best strategies to prevent crime.
Early Investment is Wise Economically:
Early education is an investment in children and in society. According to a 2013 study by Dr. James Heckman, every $1 invested in quality early education saves $7 on later issues such as incarceration, remedial education, etc. It is estimated that “the potential benefits in saving a high-risk youth from becoming a typical career criminal are between $1 and $1.3 million,” according to the Economic Opportunity Institute. Furthermore, according to recent research by Dr. James Heckman, “every dollar invested in high-quality birth-to-five early childhood education for disadvantaged children delivers a 13% annual return on investment, significantly higher than the 7-10% return delivered by preschool alone.”