The Top 5 Unexpected Benefits of Early Childhood Education

A trend is emerging when it comes to P-20 education: optional preschool is becoming a thing of the past. As a nation, we’re finally beginning to accept that preschool is beneficial—even necessary—for the success of most American children. It’s why Obama has invested billions in early childhood education, and Presidential hopefuls such as Hillary Clinton are emphatic about preschool’s importance.

As someone who has extensively written about preschool-related initiatives on this site, I’ve seen enough to uncover some unexpected benefits that come from early childhood education, and I want to share a few of them with you:

1. More preschool means a child is more prepared for Kindergarten.

A study has found that children who attend all-day preschool are much better prepared for Kindergarten than children who go to half-day programs.
Researchers from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs studied 1,000 3-and 4-year-olds enrolled in 11 Chicago schools. Students who attended preschool seven hours a day were compared to those who attended three hour programs, then tested at the commencement of preschool to see if they were socially and academically prepared to begin kindergarten.

The study found 59 percent of the students enrolled in the half-day program to be ready compared to 81 percent of the all-day preschool attendees.

2. Even better, preschool means a child is more prepared for life.

Research shows that students who start the formal education experience, even one year earlier than Kindergarten, fare better long term in their academic careers.

3. Preschool may be one key to correcting the achievement gap.

Remember the study mentioned in point #1? Well, in that same study, researchers discovered that 78 percent of white students were prepared to enter kindergarten compared to 74 percent of black children and 62 percent of Native American and Hispanic students.

Last year, Minnesota contributed $40 million in funding for pre-K scholarships for low- income families. Thanks to those dollars, 5,800 students were able to attend preschool. About 15,000 more students still need access to pre-K scholarships, but Minnesota made an important stride.

4. Preschool can help the most at-risk ethnic group, Native Americans, achieve better success.

In education circles, we talk a lot about the way black and Latino students struggle in K-12 classrooms through a combination of cultural circumstances and inequality.
But the reality is that American Indian K-12 students are the most at-risk of any minority group for either dropping out of high school or never making it to college. The American Indian Fund reports that American Indians who earn a bachelor’s degree represent less than 1 percent of all of these degree earners. It is not shocking then to realize that 28 percent of American Indians lived in poverty compared to 15 percent of the general population, according to 2010 U.S. Census figures. A college education opens doors for a higher quality of life.

However, the path to college starts long before the application process.

Fortunately, the American Indian College Fund’s Early Childhood Education program recognizes this. They sponsored a meeting which brought together 45 representatives from four American Indian tribal colleges who discussed strategies for better early childhood education and family involvement in the community.

The representatives looked at how the American Indian community can better prepare children for long-term academic success, targeting learning opportunities from birth to 8 years of age.

5. Crime rates could drop in cities like Detroit—if more children went to preschool.

Jose Diaz of the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation conducted the study “Cost Savings of School Readiness Per Additional At-Risk Child in Detroit and Michigan” where the findings appear. The research was commissioned by the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation and it suggests that investing in early childhood education could cut Detroit’s crime rate and save taxpayers in the state millions of dollars, according to a story on the study by The Detroit News. The story says that Detroit taxpayers would save around $96,000 for each child who was enrolled in a quality early education program and Michigan taxpayers would save $47,000 for each child.

The figure was derived from adding cost savings to special education, public assistance, childcare subsidies, the victims of crime and the criminal justice system. The majority of the savings would come from the criminal justice system.

Currently, only 4 percent of prisoners in Michigan under the age of 20 years old graduated from high school.

As it is right now, thirty eight states offer free, voluntary preschool learning programs and nearly 1.6 million low-income families receive assistance from the federal Child Care Development Fund to pursue early childhood education. And imagine this: that fund is just one portion of President Obama’s $75 billion plan to expand early childhood learning in order to give American student a stronger foundation going into Kindergarten.

Granted, not everyone agrees with the idea of concentrating so much energy on early childhood education. Some critics think that universal preschool, for example, is just a way to add more education jobs (especially since some proponents want to insist that states accepting federal preschool dollars pay preschool teachers at the same rate as elementary ones).

But overall, I expect that in the next decade, our terminology will change from K-12 to PK-12 when we talk about student benchmarks. More states will lobby for pre-K funding and more families, from low- to high-income, will seek out early learning options to set their kids up for academic success.
So what do you think? Will preschool ever be considered as necessary as kindergarten through twelfth grade? What are some benefits (or even drawbacks) of increasing the number of early childhood education programs?

As usual, I am interested to hear from you, so please leave a comment.

0 Replies to “The Top 5 Unexpected Benefits of Early Childhood Education”

  1. Even though I was very young, I still remember my days at preschool and learning how to cut with scissors and recognizing colors and shapes. By the time I got to Kindergarten, I was very prepared for school, so I can understand and see how important it is to send your child to preschool. It’s interesting that the decision to send your child to preschool can affect a child for the rest of their academic career and the rest of their life! I wonder if parents realize this and how if more parents knew this if they would do everything they could to send their children to preschool.

  2. That’s interesting that preschool could affect even crime rates. I think preschool has a really big effect socially on kids as well. It’s a great way for kids to get used to being around each other at an early stage of development.

  3. I’d love it is people would start focusing on early childhood education, just imagine all the things kids could learn if they started at a young age. Granted, many parents could disagree, because there is a chance that you could just burnout your kids earlier. I’ve been trying to do my research on child care recently. My husband and I have both started new jobs so we’re needing someone to watch over our daughter, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to find a professional place for her to stay.

  4. Thank you for helping me understand the benefits of early childhood education. It was interesting to learn that this type of education has helped kids to be more prepared for kindergarten. I hope this article can help my nieces and nephews to develop good study habits at a young age.

  5. I really like the idea of having my child more prepared socially and academically for kindergarten. That’s amazing that children who enrolled in half-day programs were more prepared for school. I’ve been thinking about enrolling my son in a child care service while I go back to work. It didn’t really occur to me that it could also benefit is education.

  6. It’s really good that children who receive formal education before Kindergarten have better academic careers. My daughter is getting to the point where I could put her into school, and I’ve been debating what to do. I should find a school for her to go to so that she can get the education she deserves.

  7. It was interesting to learn that preschool research shows kids who have early education are better prepared for academic careers. I was debating whether or not to start my daughter in preschool. If it sets her up for a better academic future, I wouldn’t mind enrolling her.

  8. None of my four children went to preschool, and each only attended kindergarten for half the day. Today, 3 are attending college (one state, two private), and the fourth is in high school. Two of my kids are “gifted” and one is on the autism spectrum and has learning disabilities. I am an advocate of keeping your babies home as long as possible. Use those early years to begin to teach them how to be kind, how to have self – control, how to share, etc. Read to them daily, play with them, explore the outdoors with them, eat with them, love and bond with them. School and The mandates that come with it are manmade.
    It worries me that The majority of a population believes a “system” can do better by a child than The child’s own parent. The years go by so fast. Trust your instincts! I am currently a public school teacher, but my first calling will always be motherhood.

  9. Thanks for going into more detail of why preschool and kindergarten will benefit my child. It would make sense that if my child goes through preschool he will already know the ropes of being away from home and learning all day, so then kindergarten will be so much easier for him to adjust to. My son is begging me to go to school and I just want to make sure we choose the best place for him to start his education.

  10. I like how you mentioned that starting a child’s education early can have positive effects. It was nice that you included that children who begin their education earlier fare better in their academic careers. My sister recently had a baby girl. Considering putting her into a classroom environment early in life could be beneficial to her.

  11. Thank you so much for sharing that children who have even one extra year of formal education experience before Kindergarten do better throughout their academic careers. My sister has been having trouble deciding whether to find a preschool program for her son or just keep him for an extra year with her. I’ll be sure to let her know that if he does go to a preschool program, he will do better in his academic career than his peers who didn’t.

  12. Thank you for presenting such informative information on early child education! I especially liked your statistics relating child education to crime reduction and the costs associated. My wife and I are currently looking into early child education for our toddler.

  13. It’s really interesting how you said that only 4% of prisoners in some prisons were high school graduates. Getting kids into school and helping them stay in school seems like it is a pretty important part of having them be good citizens. I wonder if kids who are in child care and daycare have a tendency to be more involved with school later in life.

  14. I have this adopted child and I’ve been thinking about taking him to preschool, despite his young age, I think he’s pretty brilliant and I just wanted him to develop that intelligence. You said that early schooling will help them be prepared for kindergarten and more importantly in life. Nice!

  15. Thank you for share this helpful article. Improving the economy, strengthening the middle class and reducing the deficit are national priorities. Solving these challenges starts with investing in America’s greatest resource: its people. Quality early learning and development programs for disadvantaged children can foster valuable skills, strengthen our workforce, grow our economy and reduce social spending.
    I want to suggest you one of the best preschool for your child. Cambridge Montessori Preschool is the best preschool in Delhi .

  16. Thanks for sharing your blog about the benefits of early childhood education. It’s great to know that those children who start their formal education a year earlier fared better long-term in their academic careers. My husband and I started talking about when to enroll our son in school. We absolutely want the best for him, so we’ll go with something that will benefit him in the long run. I will make sure to talk to my husband about the benefits of preschool.

  17. !! I appreciate that and thank you for your comment. I sometimes glance and notice completely unconsciously, it just happened. I wonder if kids who are in child care and daycare have a tendency to be more involved with school later in life.

  18. I never really took into account that attending preschool could help you be more prepared for life by helping academic performance. My wife and I have been contemplating sending our daughter to preschool strictly for the social benefits it could bring her. Knowing that she would be better equipped for school and a career just by starting her education early makes me want her to attend preschool even more.

  19. It sure was nice how you said that according to one study, children who went to preschool actually have a much better chance of performing better in the academic careers than those who did not. I think my sister needs to take her daughter to a preschool right away. I do not remember that my sister and I went to preschool, and that was the probable reason why we both found it difficult to study. Surely, she does not want her daughter to suffer the same problem. I will let her know about this. Thank you.

  20. I found it interesting when you said that one of the benefits of early childhood education is that children fare better long-term in their academic careers. My sister is thinking if she should enroll my nephew in a daycare center for him to have socialization with other children. I’ll inform my sister the benefit of getting my nephew to a daycare.

  21. I love that you talked about the importance of preschool education in preparing children for their future academic endeavors and in life. As we know, our youthful years form an integral part of the developing years of human beings as we tend to easily absorb information during this phase, which in turn shapes our personality, behavior, and intellect. My baby Susanna just turned three, and reading this article even justified my plans of enrolling her to preschool. These “baby steps” will certainly guide her as she learns things one at a time, while enjoying the company of other kiddos like her. Thank you for sharing these points, especially to new moms like me who simply wanted to give and bring out the best in our children.

  22. I appreciate what you said about preschool being one way to correct the achievement gap because it starts children of color out earlier. I like that the state contributed money to get low-income children into Pre-K. Child care and preschool can be a really important part of a child’s development. I think education should be available to everyone no matter what.

  23. I like what you said about how students starting early in the education process. My husband and I are planning to have kids and want to be sure we have some idea of what to do beyond the first couple years. Thank you for the information about how the earlier start in formal education can help the child fare better in their academic careers.

  24. I can see why early education is smart. I like how you said that it allows the child to prepare for life, especially since school goes for decades. My son will appreciate an early start to that, I’m sure, so I’ll look for a school for him.

  25. This article really caught my interest when you mentioned early child education can help crime rates go down. It was also interesting that children who go to half day preschools are more prepared to go to kindergarten verses the children who did not. My child is young, and I am trying to decide if child education is something I should invest in. Thank you for sharing all the benefits of early childhood education. I’ll need to find a trusted service to take them to.

  26. I like the part where you mentioned that children who received formal education at an early age fared better in their academic careers than those who didn’t. I started late in school, and I felt the difference. To be honest, though, I am not sure if that is just coincidence. But since I do not want my daughter to end up like me, I will be sure to get enroll her in a school as soon as she is ready.

  27. I appreciate what you said about starting a child’s education so much as a year before they enroll in kindergarten. Kindergarten is super helpful to the early cognitive development of your child’s mind. When my baby comes of age, I’ll be sure to enroll her in a kindergarten that will give her a great start on her educational journey.

  28. I like how you mentioned that preschool makes children more prepared for life because studies show that students who start formal education even just one year earlier than kindergarten do better long term in their academic careers. My daughter is getting to the age where she can go to preschool, but she has a hard time being away from home so I’m not sure if it’s a good option. After learning of the many great benefits of early childhood education, I will definitely further consider putting my daughter in preschool.

  29. I like that you state that it’s beneficial for children to attend an all-day preschool. My brother has been looking for places to take his gifted son. I will send him this information so he can make sure to find a specialized school for toddlers.

  30. The importance of quality preschool education is discussed very efficiently. It is necessary for a children to give him/her a best primary education system to emerge
    abilities you have discussed abilities. The best part of the post is that you have discussed amazing benefits of getting a quality pre school education .

  31. The most important part of primary education is preschool. If a child gets a best and quality education he will have a good future no doubt otherwise he
    might have a dull future or may get shie.

  32. It’s remarkable that this research claims that pupils who begin formal education even one year before kindergarten do better in their academic careers over the long term. I want my child to have the greatest education possible for his future. I want to enrol my kid in daycare so that he may learn how to communicate and make new friends.

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