It may seem hard to believe that quality care and education for a child under 5 years old can determine their future success as an adult, but it does. Understanding brain development can explain why the early years are so important to the future success of our children. During the first 5 years of life 90% of the brain is developed. The skills each of us need in order to function in society, our executive brain functions, are formed. While the brain of an elementary school aged child are geared more towards learning math, science and how to read, a preschoolers mind is geared towards building executive brain functions such as: focus, self control, communication, social skills, time management and self-direction. Of course early literacy and math skills are also important during the preschool years, but nothing is more important than helping children to enhance their executive brain function.
According to Aurthur J. Rolnick Director of Research for the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, and professor of economics for the University of Minnesota, children who attend a quality early childcare center during their first five years of life are 80% more likely to graduate from high school and are 60% more likely to graduate from college. Why do the preschool years make such a difference?
The skills that we learn during the first 6 years of life are the skills we need to succeed. A child who can focus longer and can be self directed will be able to stay on task longer and complete assignments in school more effectively. As an adult, communication skills and good time management are vital to making it through college and excelling in a career. So while it may seem very important to teach your 2 year old their ABC's and how to count, it is more important to help them establish a strong social and emotional foundation.