What Is the Importance of Early Childhood Education?

Early childhood education is beneficial for children ages 3, 4 and 5. It's also often referred to as preschool, pre-kindergarten, day care, nursery school or early education. No matter the name, each serves the same purpose: to prepare young children for their transition into elementary school. Sending your preschool-age child to one of these early childhood education programs can make a positive impact on her and give her a head start toward a bright future.

Toddler coloring at table in preschool. (Image: Kraig Scarbinsky/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Learning and Development

The capacity of your child's brain to soak up new learning peaks when your child is 3 years old, according to Ready to Learn DC. At this point in your child's life, she has the highest potential for learning new things. While attending an early childhood education program, your child will improve her language and motor skills, while developing the learning and cognitive skills necessary to move on to primary school, states the Rural Education Action Program at Stanford University.

Health Benefits

Attending a quality early childhood education program can benefit your child's health as well. Approximately 60 to 70 percent of preschool-age children attend an early childhood program or child care program out of the home, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Studies show that being provided with quality care in those programs can positively influence your child's learning and development. In addition, your child's socio-emotional development is less likely to be adversely affected, with a decreased chance of needing behavioral or mental health care once she enters primary school.

Importance of Screenings

One of the many benefits of your child receiving an early childhood education is the opportunity to participate in early childhood screening. This screening is provided for 3- to 5-year-olds and tests things like health, cognitive development, speech, vision, hearing, coordination, emotional skills and social skills, notes Education.com. Screenings can identify any development or health issues that need to be taken into consideration, to prevent learning delays.

Economic Benefits

Children aren't the only ones that benefit from early childhood education programs, states the National Institutes of Health. These programs can have economic benefits as well. A study conducted by the NIH tracked low-income families whose children received intensive early childhood education, while their parents received parenting skills training, social services and job skills training. The results showed that these children went further with their education, had a higher income and better health insurance coverage than those who didn't receive early childhood education. These children were also less likely to abuse alcohol or be arrested and incarcerated for a felony.

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