Great news in early childhood education: In recent decades, while some research has shown that children can benefit from early learning programs in the long run, some of their peers have ended up losing their advantage later on, sometimes even with negative consequences. However, a new study has just confirmed that high-quality child care can indeed have long-term positive consequences. But on one condition: Kids must be enrolled as early as possible to maintain a long-lasting advantage.
According to Diane Horm, the George Kaiser Family Foundation Endowed Chair of Early Childhood Education and founding director of the Early Childhood Education Institute (ECEI) at the University of Oklahoma at Tulsa, "The results show the importance of starting early if you want to have large and sustained effects from high-quality early childhood programs." In short, kids need a high dose of high-quality early education - before entering kindergarten.
Other measures, applied with babies and toddlers as part of the Educare model, may also be useful, such as keeping kids with the same teachers for several years, providing plenty of sensitive and responsive attention and interactions, and last but not least, keeping a ratio of three teachers to eight students.
The new study's findings confirm those obtained from the most famous research in this field, The Carolina Abecedarian Project, a controlled experiment conducted from 1972 to 1977 in North Carolina, which already measured the beneficial effects of high-quality early education from infancy to age 5 - and beyond! Both studies agree that early access to high-quality early education is critical to have positive results that will stand the test of time.
The age of children's enrollment is also important. When they start early, at a time during which their brains are growing at high speed, young kids harvest more from high-quality child care. At this time of their development, the interactions between babies and toddlers with their caregivers have a profound impact. "The infant-toddler period is increasingly recognized as a unique developmental stage that really does set the path for all that follows," Horm said.
Picture: High quality child care (ChildUp & DALL-E - 2023)