High quality early childhood education may lead to tertiary success

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  Published on Wednesday, 28 March 2018

High quality early childhood education may lead to tertiary success

Library Home  >  General Information on Child Care
  Published on Wednesday, 28 March 2018
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If you sometimes feel guilty about leaving your child in their early childhood service, don't! A new longitudinal study out of the USA has shown that children who attended a high quality early childhood program were more likely to receive a tertiary qualification in later life.

The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) showed that children who participated in an intensive education program from preschool through to year three were more likely to achieve a tertiary qualification than children who did not.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota, led by Professor Arthur Reynolds followed the 30-year progress of 989 children who attended a Chicago based early childhood service called Child-Parent Centres (CPC) as preschoolers.

CPC programs offer children the opportunity to engage in a wide range of experiences, including field trips and instruction in reading and maths in small groups, and parents are encouraged to volunteer in the classrooms and assist with field trips.

The researchers compared the educational outcomes of graduates from 20 CPC schools to those of 550 children from low-income families who attended five other randomly selected early childhood providers in the Chicago area with intensive intervention programs.

According to Professor Reynolds, in Chicago children from low-income families are less likely to attend tertiary education than their higher-income peers and the 30-year study aimed to assess whether an intervention such as the CPC program in early childhood could close the gap.

"A strong system of educational and family supports in a child's first decade is an innovative way to improve educational outcomes leading to greater economic well-being. The CPC program provides this," said Professor Reynolds.

Using information on the study participants collected from administrative records, schools and families, from birth through 35 years of age, the researchers determined that, on average, graduates of the CPC program completed more education than those who did not. Researchers were able to access education records for more than 90 per cent of participants from the original sample.

In addition, children in the CPC group were more likely as adults to achieve an associate's degree or higher (15.7 per cent vs. 10.7 per cent), including a bachelor's degree (11 per cent vs. 7.8 per cent) and master's degree (4.2 per cent vs. 1.5 per cent).

Children who participated in the CPC program through to year two or three showed even greater gains: a 48 per cent increase in associate's degree or higher and a 74 per cent increase for bachelor's degree or higher.

Professor James Griffin from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development said the results highlight the long lasting importance of high quality early childhood programs.

"This study suggests that a high-quality, early childhood intervention program, especially one that extends through third grade, can have benefits well into adult life," he said.

According to the study's authors, successful early childhood programs not only may lead to higher adult educational achievement, but also to improved health. The authors noted that adults with less education are more likely to adopt unhealthy habits like smoking and to experience high blood pressure, obesity, and mental health problems than those who complete more schooling.

This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Thursday, 06 February 2020

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