The long term benefits of early education

Families are under increasing pressure both to make ends meet and have quality time to raise their children well. The good news is that quality early learning in early childhood education and care and preschool can be the best support available to parents to help their children be able to succeed at school and in life.

According to the The Early Learning Everyone Benefits campaign, “Giving children the opportunity to attend quality early childhood education for at least two days a week helps them to understand and manage their emotions, learn social skills like how to share and take turns as well as how to focus so they are able to handle the structure of the school environment.”

Numerous studies have proven that high quality early childhood education can deliver long-term benefits that extend into adulthood. For example:

  • Children who attend a quality early childhood program in the year before school are up to 40 per cent ahead of their peers by the time they reach Year 3 in primary school (Warren & Haisken-DeNew, 2013).
  • UK research found that children who attend quality early learning had higher grades in school, were better able to manage their behaviour and had lower levels of hyperactivity. The longer they spent in early learning, and the higher the quality, the better their grades were and the more likely they were to continue academic studies (Waldren, 2017).

There is considerable evidence among those who work with child development and early education that 4-year-olds gain significantly from being in a high-quality, early learning setting.

The years from birth to age 5 are viewed as a critical period for developing the foundations for thinking, behaving, and emotional well-being. Child development experts indicate it is during these years that children develop linguistic, cognitive, social, emotional, and regulatory skills that predict their later functioning in many domains (Trawick-Smith, 2014; Woolfolk & Perry, 2012).

Early learning: Social and economic benefits

Early learning is also a powerful intervention for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. International research shows that disadvantaged children who attend quality early learning for at least two days per week are:

  • more likely to finish school
  • more likely to find higher paying jobs
  • more likely to own their own homes
  • less likely to be involved in crime as adults
  • less likely to need support with emotional and behavioural problems.

Quality early learning guided by skilled and qualified educators makes a huge difference to outcomes for children.