Why the Early Years Are Important by img20336

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									Why the Early Years
Are Important
  Research increasingly confirms that a child’s experiences
                                                                              “An important lesson to draw from
in the initial years of life heavily influence growth and                   the entire literature on successful early
development. Consider:                                                      intervention is that it is the social skills
 n Roughly 85 percent of the brain’s core structure is formed               and motiviation of the child that are more
   by age three. (ABC’s of Early Childhood)                                 easilty altered – not IQ. These social
                                                                            and emotional skills affect performance
 n Although 90 percent of a person’s total brain development                in school and in the workplace. We too
   occurs by age three, less than five percent of public                    often have a bias toward believing that
   spending is targeted to children aged birth to three.                    only cognitive skills are of fundamental
   (ABC’s)                                                                  importance to success in life.”
 n An estimated six million children under the age of three                                 James J. Heckman, PhD
   spend some or all of their day being cared for by someone                       Nobel Leaureate of Economic Sciences
   other than a member of their immediate family. (Ehrle)                                                         2000
 n Factors that influence a child’s brain development—the
                                                                                    Invest in the Very Young,
  environment and family—can put the child at risk or
                                                                                  Ounce of Prevention Fund, 2000
  protect the child from risk.
 n Early childhood interventions are particularly effective
  for low-income children, and welfare reform has increased
  the demand for quality care and education for very young
  children.
 n High-quality early childhood services support healthy
  development over the long term and influence a child’s             Academic preparedness requires two equally important sets
  ability to succeed in school, in addition to supporting the      of skills: social-emotional skills to communicate, cooperate,
  family as a whole.                                               and cope with challenges and cognitive skills that provide
  Evidence such as this provides a compelling reason for           children with specific subject-based knowledge (e.g., letters
county leaders to invest in the care of children from birth to     and numbers). This is why well-trained, responsive, and
age five.                                                          nurturing caregivers play a crucial role in early childhood
                                                                   services.
  The development and implementation of early childhood
programs are based on sound science: Children are born                Counties and states across the country are working to link
with roughly 100 billion neurons. Connections between              Head Start, child care, and other early childhood programs
these neurons are tentative at birth, but they are rapidly         so that families with young children can benefit from
modified and “hardwired” as the child grows, experiences the       comprehensive, integrated services. When counties invest in
world, and establishes relationships with others. Hardwired        such programs, their “payback” is a reduction in expenditures
connections are responsible for all of a child’s major cognitive   for intervention services and programs later in the child’s
and emotional functions—including vision, hearing,                 life. Even better, the children and their families are enriched
language, social-emotional development, and movement.              in ways that can’t be measured in dollars and cents.

								
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