The Importance of Early Childhood Education
The saying goes, “Everything you need to know, you learned in kindergarten.” This may have been the case years ago, but in the year 2020, the positive effects of early childhood education (ECE) and pre-kindergarten cannot be minimized. In fact, the positive effects of early childhood education have been found to persist for years. Researchers from the Harvard Graduate School of Education found that children who attend high-quality ECE programs are, “less likely to be placed in special education, less likely to be retained in a grade, and more likely to graduate from high school than peers who didn’t attend such programs,” (McCoy et al., 2017).
The recipe for success in early childhood education is not found in early literacy programs or high-stakes academic programs, but rather in “soft skills” and social emotional learning - self-regulation, sharing, communicating feelings, teamwork, and problem solving. Skilled early childhood educators weave opportunities for non-academic skill-building and predictable routines throughout the day. These educators introduce literacy and numeracy skills, but also focus on social-emotional competencies and executive function skills.
“There is increasing evidence that social-emotional skills may play a role (in academic success), as they support children's ability to continuously engage in learning environments, manage their own behaviors, and get along well with others,” said Dr. Dana Charles McCoy of the Harvard Graduate School of Education (2017). Research has shown that teaching young students how to follow a schedule or comfort an upset friend are actually integral to learning literacy and math. “A focus on literacy, language, and mathematics predictably leads to stronger vocabulary skills and stronger geometry knowledge — but it has also been found to lead to a stronger working memory and greater flexible thinking,” (Weiland & Yoshikawa, 2013).
St. Luke’s Episcopal School’s Early Childhood program is based on educating the whole child and providing opportunities to practice vital life-skills in a safe environment. The cornerstone of St. Luke’s program is the social and emotional development of each child. St. Luke’s students gain foundational academic readiness through play, exploration, and careful adult guidance. Hands-on learning, multi-sensory stimulating activities, and direct social-emotional instruction prepare learners for their time long beyond preschool. For more information about St. Luke’s Episcopal School’s Early Childhood program, visit www.sles-sa.org or call 210-826-0664.
McCoy, D. C., Yoshikawa, H., Ziol-Guest, K. M., Duncan, G. J., Schindler, H. S., Magnuson, K., Shonkoff, J. P. (2017). Impacts of Early Childhood Education on Medium- and Long-Term Educational Outcomes. Educational Researcher, 46(8), 474–487. https://doi.org/10.3102/0013189X17737739
Weiland, C. & Yoshikawa, H. (2013). Impacts of a prekindergarten program on children's mathematics, language, literacy, executive function, and emotional skills. Child Development, 84(6), 2112-2130. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.12099.