Decades of early childhood research studies demonstrate that children with access to high quality early childhood development and health opportunities are more prepared for kindergarten, do better in school, and are more likely to graduate and enroll in college. They also tend to be healthier and more productive members of society.
Advances in science and technology have helped show how the experiences children have in their early years actually shape the development of their brain.
Learn more about brain architecture and how early experiences affect brain development from Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child.
Quality Early Learning
Key early childhood research studies demonstrated that high-quality care and education from birth through age 5 results in higher IQ scores, higher school graduation rates and lower crime rates. Young children with high-quality experiences have also been shown to have better vocabulary, language, math and social skills, more positive relationships with classmates, and higher scores on school-readiness assessments.
Puzzling it Out: The Current State of Scientific Knowledge on Pre-Kindergarten Effects lists the six consensus statements of a task force comprised of social scientists from Brookings and Duke University. Among the findings:
- Children who attend preschool programs are better prepared for kindergarten than children who don’t.
- While all children benefit from preschool, poor and disadvantaged children often make the most gains.
- Some studies show the academic and social benefits of preschool continue throughout school and into adulthood.
The HighScope Perry Preschool Study, a randomized control trial, showed the long-term benefits of high-quality preschool for children from disadvantaged backgrounds, including higher graduation rates, fewer teen pregnancies, higher median income, less dependence on government services and more.
Landmark studies of the Chicago Child-Parent Center Program, an established early childhood intervention for low-income children in public schools, have shown better long-term educational and social outcomes – higher rate of high school completion, more years of education completed, and lower rates of juvenile arrest, violent arrest and school dropout.
The Abecedarian Project, another groundbreaking research study, demonstrated the positive, long-term effects of high-quality early care and education, including being four times more likely to graduate from college.
More About Early Learning
- Lessons from Research and the Classroom: Implementing High-Quality Pre-K that Makes a Difference for Young Children
- Preschool Education and Its Lasting Effects: Research and Policy Implications
- The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds
- The Case of Brain Science and Guided Play
Parenting Education / Family Support
Parents are a child’s first teachers. Family support services promote social competencies and behaviors that contribute to parental, child and family health and development for all families.
Extensive research of Nurse-Family Partnership, a home visitation model for first-time mothers, showed positive effects for mother and child, including improved educational outcomes and reductions in child abuse, neglect and injuries.
Rigorous research designs have shown evidence of the effectiveness of the Parents as Teachers home visitation model. Positive effects on families include improved child health and development, prevention of child abuse and neglect, increased school readiness, and increased parent involvement in children’s care and education.
Healthy Families America evaluation results from more than 20 states, including 12 randomized control trials, demonstrate positive outcomes in the following six domains required by the federal Maternal Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program: reduced child maltreatment; improved child health, including increased birth weight; parent-child interaction; school readiness and adjustment in 1st grade; family self-sufficiency; and, coordination of services and referrals.
Evaluation findings indicate that the Safe Babies Court Teams is a promising approach for promoting greater collaboration between the courts, child welfare and the community to meet the needs of very young children in foster care and to realize positive safety, permanency, and well-being outcomes.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has declared literacy promotion to be an “essential component of pediatric care” for all children, referencing the Reach Out and Read model as an effective intervention to engage parents and prepare children to achieve their potential in school and beyond. Findings show parents served by Reach Out and Read are 2.5 times more likely to read aloud to their children, start lifelong learning habits in the home, and participation improves children’s language during the preschool years.