Friday, December 17, 2021

Early Childhood Education Increases Academic and Professional Success

Today we are concluding our series on early childhood learning by former Yellin Center Learning Specialist Renée Jordan.

In the 1960’s, a pilot project, called the Perry Preschool Project, was conducted that gave children access to a preschool experience and supplemental home learning using high-quality programming that was designed to develop their cognitive, motor and social-emotional skills.  

Initial participants in the Perry Preschool Project showed greater academic achievement, as well as higher income earning later in life when compared to a control group (those who hadn’t had access to early learning). Participants also had higher graduation rates and IQ scores, as well as reduced incarceration rates and a higher likelihood to own their own homes.

Recently, researchers followed up with participants (now in their 50s) to see if these significant positive outcomes held -and they did. Not only that, but when researchers looked at the participants' children, they saw generational gains in terms of academic achievement and income. 

One interesting element of the Perry Preschool Project is that it included home learning support using the same rich educational programming. When parents and childcare providers provide developmentally appropriate materials and time for children to play with them, children reap immeasurable benefits that set them up for success in school and in life. 

However, it can be tricky as a parent or care provider to know what early childhood skills your child should be developing. Thankfully, there are resources, like Earlybird, that give you the information you need about child development, and the no-prep activities and materials you need to apply that learning. 

Photo by Andrew Ebrahim on Unsplash

Monday, December 6, 2021

The School Readiness Skills Your Child Needs

We are continuing our series on early childhood learning by former Yellin Center Learning Specialist Renée Jordan.

If you have a child under the age of five you may be wondering what skills you need to be working on to ensure they are school ready and set up for success upon starting kindergarten.

School readiness skills are the cognitive, social-emotional, motor, and attentional skills that lay the foundation for future school success. The thinking used to be that all your child needed was to recognize a few letters and numbers. However, current research shows that school readiness goes beyond just the basic literacy and numeracy skills. Motor and social-emotional skills are critical. Higher thinking skills such as creativity, problem solving, and imagination are of equal importance to academic skills (Pan, Trang, Love & Templin, 2019).

Sesame Workshop, the educational research organization behind Sesame Street, commissioned the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study to examine school readiness skills in today’s children. Their findings were released in the Kindergartners’ Skills at School Entry report. The study found  that 44% of children enter school with one or more developmental risk factors that have the potential to impact their success in school.

The good news is that you can develop these skills at home or childcare while your child plays, using the materials you already have around. Children are "hands-on" learners. They acquire knowledge through playful interactions with quality materials and meaningful interactions with their caregivers (Hedges, 2000; Whitebread et. Al., 2009).

Painting, play dough, and coloring build motor skills. Letters, colors, numbers and shapes can be reinforced while children play with their toys. Dramatic play is grounds for rich social-emotional learning. Higher thinking skills are cultivated as a child builds puzzles, solves mazes and engineering towers out of their blocks.

One great resource that makes sense of the early years for parents and caregivers is Earlybird. Beyond providing fun, engaging play-based learning activities, Earlybird will also teach you what developmental skills each activity is targeting, giving you the knowledge, confidence and resources to ensure your child is school ready.