ERIC Number: ED480821
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2003
Reference Count: N/A
Ready for School: The Case for Including Babies and Toddlers as We Expand Preschool Opportunities.
Wilen, Julie Rubins
While the notion of starting education early with children has gained momentum in the public's mind, our public policies and investments still do not reflect society's increasing knowledge of how the human brain grows and how very early experiences beginning at birth affect a child's future. Arguing that if policymakers fail to include the needs of babies and toddlers as plans are made for universal preschool, in five years the conversation about "school readiness" will instead by about "preschool readiness," this brief examines the gap between what is known about early cognitive development and what is done when it comes to early care and education, and advocates a common conversation about school readiness and a unified movement to develop a voluntary, universal early learning system for children prior to kindergarten that builds upon existing programs and begins with children most at-risk for school failure. The brief expands the notion of school readiness to one encompassing the social-emotional development needed to navigate the preschool environment: approach new tasks with confidence, sit with other children in a group and listen, have sufficient vocabulary and language experience to communicate without disruptive behavior. Next, the brief summarizes research findings on the effects of early experiences on learning at preschool age and older. The brief then describes characteristics of birth-to-three programs, highlighting in particular Early Head Start. Financing models and strategies are then described, noting that the federal government and a few states, including Illinois and California, have implemented such innovative approaches as they build birth-to-five early learning systems. Critical elements for a birth-to-five system are also highlighted in the areas of accessibility, quality, and coordination with other early childhood services. The brief concludes by reiterating that as states engage in discussions to promote universal preschool programs, adequately addressing the learning and nurturing needs of children younger than age three must be at the forefront of the conversation. (Contains 13 notes.) (HTH)
Descriptors: Brain, Childhood Needs, Cognitive Development, Early Childhood Education, Early Experience, Educational Policy, Infants, Learning Readiness, Program Development, Public Policy, School Readiness, Social Development, Toddlers
Ounce of Prevention Fund, 122 South Michigan Avenue, Suite 2050, Chicago, IL 60603-6198. Tel: 312-922-3863; Fax: 312-922-2173; Web site: http://www.ounceofprevention.org. For full text: http://www.ounceofprevention.org/downloads/publications/ready_for_school.pdf.
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Ounce of Prevention Fund.