Early Education Programs Improve Outcomes
A child’s development is a complex interplay between their genes and the environment they grow up in. Children who grow up in poverty, in a single-parent household or in a family where the head of the household lacks a high school diploma, they are more likely to be exposed to adverse childhood experiences. If a child is exposed to too many adverse experiences their brain becomes wired in a way that makes learning very difficult for the rest of his or her life.
Early learning programs help mitigate the detrimental risk factors children experience early in life. This buffers the children from the harm that can potentially compromise their healthy development. Research shows that early learning programs improve reading and math scores, increase graduation rates and reduce crime – and cost less than remediation programs.
In New Mexico our investment in education is inverse to what is known about the science of brain development – while the majority of brain development occurs in the first five years of life, the majority of our public investment in learning occurs after those years.
The return on investment for early learning is 10% per year, per child over the life of the child. The returns come in the way of savings because the need for special education, remediation, incarceration, and social services is reduced. Other returns come in the way of higher earnings which result in higher tax revenue for the state.
Child Abuse Prevention
From the Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University
Healthy development in the early years provides the building blocks for educational achievement, economic productivity, responsible citizenship, lifelong health, strong communities, and successful parenting of the next generation. This three-part video series from the Center and the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child depicts how advances in neuroscience, molecular biology, and genomics now give us a much better understanding of how early experiences are built into our bodies and brains, for better or for worse.
- Experiences Build Brain Architecture – https://youtu.be/VNNsN9IJkwsThe basic architecture of the brain is constructed through a process that begins early in life and continues into adulthood. Simpler circuits come first and more complex brain circuits build on them later. Genes provide the basic blueprint, but experiences influence how or whether genes are expressed. Together, they shape the quality of brain architecture and establish either a sturdy or a fragile foundation for all of the learning, health, and behavior that follow. Plasticity, or the ability for the brain to reorganize and adapt, is greatest in the first years of life and decreases with age.
- Serve and Return Interaction Shapes Brain Circuitry – https://youtu.be/m_5u8-QSh6A
One of the most essential experiences in shaping the architecture of the developing brain is “serve and return” interaction between children and significant adults in their lives. Young children naturally reach out for interaction through babbling, facial expressions, and gestures, and adults respond with the same kind of vocalizing and gesturing back at them. This back-and-forth process is fundamental to the wiring of the brain, especially in the earliest years.
- Toxic Stress Derails Healthy Development – https://youtu.be/rVwFkcOZHJw
Learning how to cope with adversity is an important part of healthy development. While moderate, short-lived stress responses in the body can promote growth, toxic stress is the strong, unrelieved activation of the body’s stress management system in the absence of protective adult support. Without caring adults to buffer children, the unrelenting stress caused by extreme poverty, neglect, abuse, or severe maternal depression can weaken the architecture of the developing brain, with long-term consequences for learning, behavior, and both physical and mental health.
Fighting Chronic Disease
New research from economist James Heckman and colleagues shows that quality early childhood programs that incorporate health and nutrition help prevent adult chronic disease. Findings reveal substantially better health by the mid-30s with a lower prevalence of risk factors for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, such as stroke and diabetes. Learn more at www.HeckmanEquation.org.
Early Health & Education Prevent Chronic Disease
Prevent the Achievement Gap
The basic skills needed for success are formed before children enter school. Investing early helps to prevent the achievement gap, and investing in our most disadvantaged children provides the greatest returns. Professor Heckman advocates for investments in prevention—not remediation.http://heckmanequation.org/
The Hard Facts Behind Soft Skills
J.B. Pritzker Talks About the Importance of Character
Health and Crime