As an educator, I'm always trying to keep track of the latest research and trends about how we can best help our children succeed. There are many theories about what works about motivating children to learn, what will help them develop skills of all kinds, but something that recently has been coming up a lot is that early education is the real key to students' success. I'm a big proponent of early education and I want to share with you why this is so important.
I've written before about how so much learning takes place outside of the classroom, which is why we have to put learning at the very center of our kids' lives. But what we now know is that early education- which is generally the teaching of children before the age of eight- is where we really need to focus. Early education should not be seen an optional or a "nice to do", but should be viewed as a critical ingredient on the student stairway to success. Maybe you've read about the seemingly constant fights over budgeting for early education, pre-kindergarten programs and the like. What you likely haven't read is that we as communities can play a huge role in our children's early education as well. I always like to remind people that in the end, we are the ones responsible for ensuring our children are successful in school. Early education is one of the best returns on investment across the board. According to the First Five Years Fund, an investment in education programs can yield a 7-10% return per annum based on improved social and economic outcomes. Here's why I support robust early childhood education programs:
It helps children transition to the classroom. School isn't the easiest place to get accustomed to. It's the first time a lot of children leave the home for the very first time, which can be scary for them. We all have different reactions to fear and too often, children shut down and focus on self-care rather than tasks at hand and learning. Early childhood education is the on-ramp to successful academic careers. By investing in these programs, we can help ensure successful futures for our children.
It helps kids develop other skills. You've heard it before: learning isn't just about pencils, books and academics. It's also all about adjusting to social situations, being around other kids and new adults. Early childhood education can help kids connect to peers and educators and lead them to express their feelings and understand their surroundings. These lessons are paramount to future success. If we truly want our kids to become well-adjusted grown-ups, we should teach them how to participate in our society. Studies have shown that children who interact with many people from early ages are more prone to pick up language and vocabulary skills. These are important!
Because it isn't all about school. Let me be clear: early education has to be fun as well! Most early education programs are centered around children's favorite thing: play time. A lot of us don't remember what we learned in kindergarten or earlier but we can no doubt remember our favorite games from those days and our success is evidence of the learning that took place. Teaching children through play is critical to growth and development of children. Early education programs often involve games and social activities. Well-adjusted children who can play and learn in groups will be more successful later in life.
We all know that we have to bring out the greatness inside our children and the best way to do that is to get kids on the express bus to academic success: getting them to learn and play earlier and earlier.