There are a number of reasons why early childhood education is essential to the health and wellbeing of a young child. While educators and related professionals may have a variety of perspectives on this issue, studies have been conducted which have revealed several factors.
One of the many reasons why early childhood education is so important is because less than one-in-three children have a parent that is able to care for them full-time at home. This is usually due to work and related obligations.
Recent findings show that 70.5% of mothers are working. A considerable number of these mothers, 64.8%, have at least one child that is under six years old.
While some parents may choose babysitting or other childcare options, others place their young children in infant care or quality preschools. When a child is cared for in a quality preschool center, they can play and learn with other children their age. This can also assist children with developing language and other social skills.
Early childhood education is also vital because the time period from birth-to-three is when a child’s brain develops at the fastest rate. At this stage of a child’s development, their brain is forming 700 new neural connections per second. Early childhood education programs can provide stimulating activities, such as reading and organized play, that further enhance this growth.
The importance of reading aloud to infants and toddlers has been well-established. Unfortunately, however, only 50% of infants and toddlers have parents that read to them on a regular basis.
Reading aloud to children can further stimulate their brain development. They are able to recognize and learn words along with other language skills. Furthermore, they are able to experience the joy of storytelling time.
When considering a child’s future, especially when they’re within an at-risk population, there have been some important findings. According to the Ounce of Prevention Fund, children that did not receive quality early childhood education are more likely to encounter the following risks:
- More likely to drop out of high school: 25%>/ul>
- More likely to be a teen parent: 40%
- More likely not to attend college: 60%
- More likely to be arrested for committing a violent crime: 60%
Childcare can be expensive, which is one of the major reasons why many children may not be receiving the early education that they need. In 2014, for example, a Pew Research Center report indicated that many low-income families needed to spend approximately 40% of their income on childcare. When considering that these are families earned less than $18,000 a year, that is a considerable percentage of their income.
The 2014 Pew Research Center report also stated that families in higher income brackets were paying approximately 7.2% of their annual income. This is a much more reasonable percentage.
Some low-income families may have their children enrolled in federally subsidized child care centers. Unfortunately, however, recent figures indicate that only 22% of children receive subsidized childcare.
A recent poll showed that over two-thirds of people in the United States concur that more can and should be done to assist working parents with young children. The government and private businesses could make a major impact by focusing their efforts to ensure that these children receive a quality early childhood education experience.