The Achievement Gap

in Early Childhood in the News

parents_child_reading“By age three, the average American child of college-educated parents knows about 1,200 words, according to Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child. The average child of parents on welfare knows 400. The gap rarely closes after that.”

In his Financial Times article, “How to Raise a Winning Child,” Simon Kuper suggests when it comes to raising a successful child “parenting outweighs genes, money, and school.” In fact, the US’s National Institute of Child Health and Human Development reports parenting as the primary influence on a child’s life.

Even though many education policies aim at teaching parents, Kuper also reports the differences between middle-class and poor parents. Middle class adults seek parent education. They read books, take classes and organize play groups, while poor people lack the time and resources to study parenting in the same way.

The key is reaching all parents with little ones. Neuroscience shows parenting matters most before a little one turns three. As Kuper notes, investing in early childhood yields the greatest results. “Shaping a baby is easier than saving a delinquent teenager or unemployed adult.”

All new parents must hear the essentials of early learning in a child’s first three years:

  • Conversation and interactive talk with real people
  • Reading aloud from birth
  • Singing poems and songs
  • Playing baby and childhood games

Playful Early Learners equips parents and caregivers with practical, everyday ideas for learning birth to 5. This in turn supports teachers. Children enter preschool ready to learn.

Through parent education, we help close the gap of developmental differences evident on the first day of preschool.

“Children’s brains and children’s attitudes are formed in the first five years of life. And children’s opportunity to learn is affected by the homes in which they grow, the communities in which they grow, their respect for learning, their respect for teachers.” —Diane Ravitch, US education historian

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