Investigating Critical & Contemporary Issues in Education/Early Childhood Education

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Carrie Gossett Chapter 19-Early Childhood Education Debate

The Debate continues when to start teaching our young children. The research has shown in a number of studies that a child’s brain develops between the ages zero to 3 years. Neurologists have found what may be a biophysical basis for these results. It has been known for some time that the human brain achieves approximately 85 percent of its adult size (as measured by weight) by age 2 1/2 years, and 90 percent of total growth by age 3 (Purves, 1994). This period of brain growth corresponds to the young child’s attainment of important developmental milestones, including emotional regulation and attachment, language development, and motor skills (Sander, 1987). Head start what it is and what it is not. Head-start for some or all how do. The access disparities achieving the right balance. The early childhood education in the 21st century preparing the children read for the future.

Early Head Start program was established to serve children from birth to three years of age in recognition of the mounting evidence that the earliest years matter a great deal to children's growth and development. Head Start began in 1965 President Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty and Great Society. Programs are administered locally by non-profit organizations and local education agencies such as school systems. Head Start is a program for children age 3 to 5 in the United States. Helps to create healthy development in low-income children ages three to five. Programs offer a wide variety of services, that depend on a child's and each family's heritage and experience, to influence all aspects of a child's development and learning.The quality of a preschool program determines how effective it is in helping children learn and delvelop, with consequences for later success in school and economic benefits to its community.


Term applied universally to educational group experience for children prior to entrance into the primary grades of elementary school. It usually refers to the education of boys and girls from age’s three to six or seven, depending on the admission requirements of schools in the area. Many educators have found that children who have been enrolled in preschool centers develop positive self-concepts and basic understandings and skills that make them better able to apply their efforts to intellectual tasks when they enter school. Preschool education may be provided in day-care centers, nursery schools, or kindergartens in elementary schools. Research and clinical work have found that the experiences of the infant and young child provide the foundation for long-term physical and mental health as well as cognitive development.

In comparison, there are fewer research studies that have examined the magnitude and growth of the achievement gap prior to kindergarten. Earlier examinations of the pre-kindergarten achievement gap focused on home language learning experiences. Following children from 42 families from the Kansas area when they were 9-month-old to 36-month-old, found that by the age of 3, children in families receiving welfare had vocabularies that were half as large as those of their more affluent peers, and the disparities persisted throughout childhood. (Hart and Risley 1995) More recent studies in this area have examined the pre-kindergarten achievement gap using nationally representative data using a nationally representative sample of families in the U.S. Estimated the math achievement gap between black preschool age children and white preschool age school as two-third of a standard deviation; and the reading achievement gap as just under half a standard deviation. (Yeung and Pfeiffer 2005) Findings from these earlier studies showed existence of pre-kindergarten achievement gaps in math and reading between Black children and White children; however, these studies fell short in documenting the exact magnitude of the pre-kindergarten achievement gap in math and reading across different ethnic and racial groups. (Rock and Stenner 2005) We do know, however, that multiple risk factors place children at even greater disadvantage (Sameroff and Chandler, 1975).

As some states move forward rapidly, other fall further behind. Oklahoma remains the only state where virtually every child can start school at age 4, but other states are approaching that goal. In at least eight other states, more then half of 4 year olds attend a public preschool program of some kind. At other end of the spectrum 12 states have no regular state preschool education program. In eight states, less than one in five children are enrolled in a public preschool program at age 4 taking into account preschool special education and head start programs (Harrison, C. 1995.)

With the beginning of the 21st century in the world shaped by global competition, preschool education programs play an increasingly vital role in child development and school readiness. This is growing awareness that early learning impacts persist across children’s life span, affecting educational achievement. (Morrow, L. 1990) Federal and state programs will require expansion and greater coordination to finish the job of reaching disadvantaged children with high quality preschool education. Strategies need to be build upon and move beyond targeting to increase middle-income families who find it difficult to access high quality preschool and pre-k programs.

Policy the nation and its children will not benefit if quality is sacrificed to increase participative rates. Higher standards and added resources for quality are essential components of any effort to increase access to effective preschool education. (NIEER)

In conclusion research has provided throughout the last decade that early childhood education is the key to children having the skills they will need in school and beyond. “We need to bring what we teach and how we teach into 21st century” (Claudia Wallis, 2006)