Extensive research has indicated that preschool education has strong impacts on children’s cognitive development. Studies have supported that quality preschool education is a profitable investment as children who receive good quality preschool education are more likely to attend university and consequently get better jobs and do better in life.
The most important aspects of quality in preschool education are stimulating and supportive interactions between teachers and children and effective use of curricula. Children benefit most when teachers engage in stimulating interactions that support learning and are emotionally supportive. Interactions that help children acquire new knowledge and skills provide input to children, elicit verbal responses and reactions from them, and foster engagement in and enjoyment of learning. Such positive initial learning experiences help children develop a positive and resilient outlook with regards to education.
What is the role of a preschool?
It provides structure and routine to toddlers that helps them prepare for school. One purpose of preschool education is to get children of similar ages to interact with each other and take part in a wide variety of activities such as music, dance, and art.
For adults, it may look like play and games. But for children, it gives them a chance to learn and grow.
The brain of toddlers is highly receptive and grows at a fast rate until the age of 5 years. They are infinitely curious to learn more about the world they live in.
During this stage of life, they have greater ability to learn new things, which decreases as the child ages. Hence, adults have the responsibility to ensure that they provide pre-schoolers with the right opportunities to enable optimal brain development.
Utilising this increased learning potential to ensure that children learn social, emotional, cognitive, motor, and other important skills that are required to do well in school as well as in life, provide children with a boost and benefits them immensely.
Having such skills helps children to do better in their life even after they have completed their education. If they have not developed them at a younger age, then they lag behind their peers at every stage of their education.
Has any research been done?
Research by the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) shows that the quality of care a child receives has a major impact on their development.
Before a child is three years old, home is the best place. But once the child is over 3 years old, attending preschool enhances their development.
Providing children with exposure to well trained early childhood educators can develop their confidence, zest for knowledge, and increase their ability to take care of themselves.
A prominent study conducted among toddlers in the early 1990s showed that In instances where the toddlers are attended with care and warmth in small groups, they tend to perform much better in most development parameters. They tend to be more obedient and co-operative, along with being less aggressive. The cohort of children studied belonged to an ethnically and demographically diverse community.
This refers to the program run in the USA since the 1960s that provides comprehensive early childhood education, nutrition, health, and parent involvement services to children from low-income families.
The purpose of this program run by the United States Department of Health and Human Services is to ensure that children are equipped with the necessary skills when they start school.
Since it is being run for quite some time, it has been the subject of several studies on the effect of preschool in the long run. It has been determined to have an exceedingly positive influence on children.
Such children are more likely to finish high school and attend college than others in similar socio-economic backgrounds.
The Abecedarian Project
In 1972, an experiment was conducted called The Abecedarian Project. The purpose of this project was to check the benefit of early education in children from poor and disadvantaged families.
For the purpose of this study, more than 100 infants were studied. A majority of the children were from the African American community. Some of the notable conclusions from this study include:
- Increase in scores in reading, math, and IQ tests
- Increase in likelihood of finishing school and attending college
- Increase in likelihood of working in skilled jobs
Due to better performance in school and university, such people are less likely to end up in jail or reliant on social security. This helps them to break through low-income thresholds.
The Chicago Longitudinal Study (CLS)
A federally funded program to investigate if early and extensive childhood intervention has any benefits. It is called the Child-Parent Center (CPC) Program.
It has tracked children who were part of the program to find out if it has any long term impacts on the children.
There have been many studies conducted, which all tend to show positive impacts on the learning outcomes, health, and income.
The Consortium for Longitudinal Studies
The results of 11 research studies conducted in the 1960s and 1970s on the effects of preschool interventions corroborated better learning outcomes.
This report shows children who have gone through preschool perform well. When provided with the opportunity to develop their skills in early childhood, children are able to overcome disadvantage and manage their shortfalls with much more confidence and competence. They are more likely to finish school and attend college. Many times, this study is taken as evidence for the need and importance of early childhood education.
Among the various studies, most have supported the idea that preschool education helps children to perform better in academics, meet the milestones and expectations as per their age, graduate from school, and attend university.