The Economics of Early Childhood Investments

Executive Office of the President of the United States

This White House report introduces the early childhood investments being made in the United States and how children, parents and society as a whole benefit. The report goes into further detail explaining the effects of early childhood intervention, home visits, and programs tailored to infants, toddlers and preschool-aged children. It also describes key components of these programs such as curriculum, duration and teacher quality and training, and includes a cost-benefit analysis that highlights the benefits of investing in early childhood education.

What Exactly is “High-Quality” Preschool?

Claudio Sanchez, Cory Turner, nprEd

Claudio Sanchez and Cory Turner set out to identify what exactly is “high-quality” preschool by looking at what the nation’s best preschool programs do differently than the rest. The article discusses how funding, the role of the teacher and a connection to the student’s family have a positive impact on the lasting effects of early education. Sanchez and Turner profile how Tulsa, Oklahoma, stands out as a model for how it provides high-quality early childhood education.

Which Early Childhood Experiences Shape Adult Life?

Maanvi Singh, NPR

Maanvi Singh asks which early childhood experiences shape adult life as he looks at two studies on how our earliest experiences may stick with us for years and continue into adulthood. Singh points to one study, published in Child Development, that looks at how parents’ behavior in the first years affects life decades later and how differences in children’s temperament play a role. The second study, also published in Child Development, found that children’s early responses to experiences help predict whether or not they end up developing social anxiety disorder at teenagers—but only for those who were especially sensitive and distrustful as babies.

The New Preschool Is Crushing Kids

Today’s young children are working more, but they’re learning less.

Erika Christakis, The Atlantic

Erika Christakis shares her perspective on school readiness and how much the early childhood education landscape has changed over the past 20 years. The article suggests the new preschool is crushing kids as expectations of preschoolers that may arguably have been reasonable for 5- and 6-year-olds, such as being able to sit at a desk and complete a task using pencil and paper, are now directed at even younger children, who lack the motor skills and attention span to be successful. The author points to research that found that although children who had attended preschool initially exhibited more “school readiness” skills when they entered kindergarten than did their non-preschool-attending peers, by the time they were in first grade their attitudes toward school were deteriorating.

At This Rate, It Will Be a Very Long Time Before Every Child Gets Access to Preschool

Rebecca Klein, Huffington Post—Education

Rebecca Klein laments that while states are making progress, slowly but surely, in the number of students they serve in high-quality, state-funded pre-kindergarten programs, at this rate, it will be a very long time before every child gets access to preschool. The author shares highlights from the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University annual report on the state of preschool across America. A map that highlights which states currently have the most 4-year-olds in state-funded preschool is provided.

The Transformative Power of Early Childhood Development

Alice Albright, Huffington Post—Education

Alice Albright explores the transformative power of early childhood development  and writes about the strategy of using early childhood interventions to address socioeconomic challenges that many countries around the world, like Mozambique, face every day. Mozambique invested in 600 preschool programs, training for community teachers, and programs for parents modeled after a successful early childhood intervention initiative. While the full impact of its investments remain to be seen, these efforts have shown tangible progress in enrollment rates and narrowing the gap in attendance between affluent and lower income students. Albright concludes with a call-to-action stressing the importance of early intervention to society as a whole.