A child's brain is most malleable before age 5 and early learning is a main predictor of lifelong success. This is why it makes sense for parents and teachers to do all they can in the early years of their children's lives, and in particular addressing any learning gap before the third grade.

"Early learning has a profound impact on children's opportunities and really their family's opportunities that come down the road later in life; much of what we do in the early years makes a difference," said Parker Fawson, the Emma Eccles Jones Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Education at Utah State University. However, around the world, hundreds of millions of children still attend school without developing the basic knowledge they need to leverage their education.

Early math and literacy skills are highly predictive of how students will achieve in fifth and sixth grades, and throughout the whole school system. Simple things done with your children every day like love, talk, read, count and play can make a huge difference. According to Tracy Gruber, director of child care for the Utah Department of Workforce Services, "Early experiences are the cornerstone of lifelong learning."

Picture: Elyse Stoedter, holds her 10-month-old daughter Sophia, as older children dance to a song during storytime at the Anderson-Foothill Library in Salt Lake City (Steve Griffin/Deseret News)

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