If you are interested in making a difference in education and in children's lives, you may want to consider earning an early childhood education degree. Early childhood education teachers help children develop the building blocks for their future academic success. Let's look at a few reasons why early childhood education is so important.
1. It Sets the Right Tone for Educational Attainment
There is a phenomenon in the United States known as the school-to-prison pipeline. It refers to the negative relationship between incarceration and high school graduation. There is a high correlation between educational attainment and staying out of prison. Early childhood education experiences set the tone for a child's entire academic career as strong learners.
Not only that, but studies have shown that early childhood education has a long-lasting benefit. In a longitudinal study, 40-year-olds who participated in a preschool program were shown to have fewer teenage pregnancies, were more likely to have graduated from high school and have higher earnings, committed fewer crimes and owned a car and home as compared to those who did not attend preschool.1
2. Children Living in Poverty Get Ahead
Critical brain development takes place in children before they reach kindergarten. This means that young children need to be exposed to reading, writing, vocabulary development, counting songs, art and other stimulating material by their preschool teacher before they begin traditional schooling. By the age of three we know that children from poorer families gain experience with about 30 million fewer words than children from more affluent families.2 This is related to how much the children are spoken to directly. The word gap ultimately impacts a child's academic performance later on and can then impact child development in the next generation.
When children attend high-quality early childhood education programs, the word gap can be narrowed through intense literacy programming. These early interventions can address the inequities in child development related to socioeconomic status. Early childhood education degree holders who work with children in poverty can make a big difference by reinforcing and introducing new words, exposing children to academic topics that are not commonly shared in the household.
3. It Helps the US Compete on a Global Scale
One of the major goals of early childhood education is to help prepare young children for a lifetime of learning and success. And, in general, education is meant to help prepare them to become employees in a global economy. However, the United States falls behind many other countries when it comes to educational attainment and success, a problem that begins with enrollment and quality of early childhood education programs.
In 2018, a survey showed that only a percentage of young children were enrolled in early childhood education programs. About 80 percent of five-year-olds were enrolled in an ECE program. However, just over half of three-year-olds were enrolled; these numbers have not changed much since 2000.3
In the U.S., the fact that children are not accessing this early childhood education programming directly relates to literacy, writing and math skills later on. Early childhood education gets children ready for school and the social skills required in academic work. These skills relate directly to participation in the strong workforce in a global economy. Therefore, children who are enrolled in high-quality early childhood education programs are getting the strong foundation they need in order to successfully enter school and, later, the workforce.
4. It Benefits the Economy
As mentioned earlier, children who attended preschool saw economic benefits later in life such as holding down a steady job and owning their own home and car. But equally important economic benefits occur while the child is still enrolled in an ECE program. High-quality early childhood education programming allows many parents to work more hours, which improves productivity and benefits their company and their personal financial situation.
Early childhood education programs help parents, especially women, go back to work and find employment. In fact, the availability of early childhood education programs plays a large role in reducing a mother’s cost of working outside the home.4 And when childcare is not readily available, parents who do work often have to find other options that are less reliable, meaning they may have to stay home from work more often. The economic cost of lost earnings and productivity due to the lack of focus related to insufficient early childcare or early childhood education has been estimated to cost about 57 billion dollars a year.5
Overall, early childhood education not only has a profound impact on the individual later in life, setting the foundation for success in their personal and career journeys, but it improves the quality of the parents’ lives and the health of the economy as well. In this way, early childhood educators play an essential role in not only our communities, but our country as a whole.
If you’re interested in making a difference in the lives of young children, then consider earning your early childhood education degree at Grand Canyon University. Through our cutting-edge teacher education curriculum, you will learn how to provide the foundation for future development and provide a strong base for social skills and learning abilities throughout a child's life. Visit our website to learn more.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.