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10 Reasons Why Early Childhood Education Pays Off

Get them while they’re young: A baby forms 700 new neural connections per second

A report from the Bridgespan Group and the Pritzker Children’s Initiative, has concluded that early education and helping children in their ‘very young’ stages is more cost-effective than waiting until school years.

The report was penned by J.B. Pritzker, who is an entrepreneur and philanthropist, and brother to Penny, the U.S. secretary of commerce. In the report are no less than 10 major claims for the early education benefits in the context of ‘disadvantaged’ children, predominantly drawn from outside research.

So here are 10 direct quotes, to which we can make our own summations.

1. Ninety percent of physical brain development occurs in the first three years of life, when a baby forms 700 new neural connections per second.

2. When a young child enters kindergarten ready for school, there is an 82 percent chance that child will master basic skills by age 11, compared with a 45 percent chance for children who are not school ready.

3. Later in life, at-risk children who do not get high-quality early childhood experiences are 25 percent more likely to drop out of school, 40 percent more likely to become teen parents, and 60 percent less likely to attend college.

4. Comprehensive early interventions that combine health, nutrition, and learning have the potential to reduce risk factors associated with chronic diseases, such as hypertension and high blood sugar, well into adulthood.

5. Investment in high-quality early childhood programs for at-risk children from birth to age five delivers a 7–10 percent [annual] return on investment through better education, health, social and economic outcomes, increased productivity, and the reduced need for social spending.

Early Education Return Graph


6. Lifetime earnings gains from increased enrollment in early childhood education would outweigh the costs of these programs (the estimated gain in lifetime income per participant is $9,166 to $30,851 after subtracting the cost of the programs).

7. Combined annual per capita public spending at the state and federal level on education for six- to eighteen-year-olds is nearly four times as high as spending on children from birth to five.

8. The United States ranks 31st in a group of 32 developed nations in the percentage of public education dollars allocated to early childhood.

9. Evidence-based home visitation programs reached only 115,000 children in 2014, an estimated 2.5 percent of the need.

10. Over the 2011–12 school year, the proportion of children in three- and four-star [child-care and education] centers with age-appropriate skills increased from 33 percent to nearly 66 percent.

Kids Reading


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