early childhood education Charly Triballeau/Stringer

Preschool Confidential

High-quality early childhood education is one of those rare issues that unites people of all social strata and across the political spectrum. But the consensus about the benefits – both for the children and society – does not extend to delivery and funding.

BERKELEY – High-quality early childhood education is one of those rare issues that unites people of all social strata and across the political spectrum. But the consensus about the benefits – both for the children and society – does not extend to delivery and funding. The good news is that, with an impressive array of new models being implemented, important lessons are emerging about how to shape, finance, and scale future early education programs.

To understand what these models are trying to achieve, it is useful to consider the science that underlies them. The evidence is increasingly clear that the early years of life are crucial to brain development, with 700-1,000 new neural connections occurring every second during the first three years of life. The number of words a child hears during that critical time has a huge impact on his or her future intellectual abilities.

Yet there is a major discrepancy between the number of words heard by children of professional parents and those of working-class families – three million per year in the United States. Whereas high-income households have an average of 12 books per child, more than half of the day-care centers for the lowest-income children do not have a single book.

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