Research shows that the achievement gap appears long before children reach kindergarten — in fact it can become evident as early as age 9 months. Statistics reveal at-risk children who don’t receive a high-quality early childhood education are: 25 percent more likely to drop out of school; 40 percent more likely to become a teen parent; 50 percent more likely to be placed in special education; 60 percent more likely to never attend college; and 70 percent more likely to be arrested for a violent crime. Black children are substantially at risk for encountering these problems. One of the most cost-effective ways to offset these issues and ensure the healthy development of Black children and children in poverty is with early childhood programs. These are the reasons early childhood programs are so important for Black children: Helping Development of Language and Literacy
How parents and caregivers speak to kids significantly affects IQ, literacy and academic success later in life, according to University of Kansas child psychologists Betty Hart and Todd Risley. Their study found that the number of words and encouragements and the breadth of vocabulary heard by a child during the first three years of life can dramatically affect language development and IQ. The researchers estimated children in professional families hear approximately 11 million words per year; while children in working-class families hear approximately 6 million, and children in families receiving public assistance hear approximately 3 million words annually. The problem is exacerbated for Black boys because the studies show they talk less and talk later than girls, and as a result mothers talk to them less. Effective early childhood programs can help reduce the imbalance. Filling Caregiver Void
Young children who lack at least one loving and consistent caregiver in the earliest years may suffer severe and long-lasting development problems. A landmark study of scientific brain research published in 2000 by the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences shows environmental stress, even among infants and toddlers, can interfere with the proper development of neural connections inside the brain essential to a child’s proper social and emotional development. The report recommends that early childhood programs balance their focus on literacy and numerical skills with comparable attention to the emotional and social development of all children.