According to the American Federation of Teachers , early childhood education is beneficial to a child's future. Many studies have demonstrated the importance of the early years for the developing brain. And over the past four decades, numerous studies such as the Perry Preschool Study; the Abecedarian Project; the Chicago Longitudinal Study; and the Cost, Quality, and Child Outcomes Study have indicated that high-quality programs provide children with secure and caring relationships with educators and caregivers, stimulating learning opportunities, and experiences that prepare them for the later school years. These programs are characterized by the following practices:
· Language-rich and responsive communication between adults and children
· Positive and appropriate reinforcement of skills and behavior
· Extensive rehearsal of old and new cognitive, academic, and developmental skills
· Guidance in desirable social skills and facilitation of positive interactions between peers and adults
· Various structured or informal activities encourage children to reflect, predict, question, and hypothesize
· Availability of numerous materials, resources, and toys that focus on language and literacy
· Activities that encourage the involvement of children’s families and caretakers
· Incorporation of adequate nutrition and habits that will support good health
After such rich and diverse experiences, children are better able to handle formal schooling. They succeed because they have language skills that are more developed, a better sense of group work and play with other children, and grounding in other basic academic and social skills. And they have positive expectations about school. Children who have gone through these programs also have more secure relationships with adults; these children are better equipped to follow directions and more likely to trust figures of authority and be able to communicate their needs. Young children are capable learners, and having these types of educational experiences during their preschool years makes it possible for them to learn at a faster rate, become better readers and, consequently, better students. Although early childhood programs that include the practices described above are a monetary investment, studies consistently show a savings of $7 for every dollar spent on such programs. These savings come as a result of lower costs for remedial and special education, fewer school dropouts, and less delinquency and subsequent unemployment or criminal activity.
Research demonstrates that high-quality early childhood education helps bridge the achievement gap, reduces dropout rates and delinquency, and increases economic productivity and social stability.
Cited: American Federation of Teachers (Education Issure No.15), July 2002. Web. <http://www.aft.org>
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