EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
The highly competitive world we live in includes a demanding job force, and thus requires a skilled labour force. Therefore, preparation for such a population starts from an early age and that has become a concern in parents’ minds. Elementary school and preschool programs have become increasingly focused on providing the best curricula for children that will prepare them for their future.
BENEFITS OF PRESCHOOL EDUCATION
Preschool education brings numerous benefits to individuals and to their nations as a whole. It promotes early development of children and simultaneously enables parents to focus on employment or to continue with their own education, while children are well-looked after and taught important developmental skills. Children who attend high quality early childhood programs have better chances of succeeding in school, going to college, and getting higher paying jobs.
There are various advantages to preschool education. Many studies have shown an overwhelming need for quality, affordable, early childhood education. Clive Belfield stated in his research “Early Education” that preschool education increases graduation rates, providing Chicago as an example where more children attending the program being studied graduated from high school in comparison to other pupils, who were less likely to graduate from school. He also pointed out that, based on good school performance, drop-out and grade repetition are reduced. “Maryland fifth graders who attended an early childhood education program were 44% less likely to have repeated a grade than their peers who did not attend.”
In addition, the number of children placed in special education is reduced. Namely, in Chicago 41% of children required special education services due to lack of preschool programs. Crime and delinquency also decreased where adequate pre-school is available, and statistics in Chicago and North Carolina say that children were 70% more likely to be arrested for violent crime before coming of age, suggesting that not attending a preschool program was one of the main reasons.
In his paper “Invest in the Very Young”, James Heckman emphasised that adults in Michigan who attended early childhood education programs as children were more likely to find employment and had a 33% higher average income than their peers. He stated that preschool programs contributed to more stable families. This influences unemployment rates to come down, and income rates to go up, which reflects on wide socio-economic issues. Moreover, children who attended early childhood education programs had more advanced skills in areas such as following directions and joining in activities, allowing teachers to spend more time working directly with children and less on classroom management. “Learning starts in infancy, long before formal education begins, and continues throughout life. Early learning begets later learning and early success breeds later success, just as early failure breeds later failure” (Heckman, 2000).
Preschools have positive impacts on the lives of children all the way to adulthood. Balanced high-quality, less-extensive curricula in preschool with student-directed learning, physical activity, and personal connections with teachers will produce positive outputs, which are not likely to fade later on.
Belfield, Clive R. (2004) Early Education: How Important Are the Cost Savings to the School System Research Briefing. New York, NY: Teachers College, Columbia University
Heckman, J. J. (2000). Invest in the Very Young.