When does learning begin? For decades, kindergarten was viewed as the cornerstone of children’s educational and real-world success. But research now consistently shows brain development happens much earlier. In fact, it starts at birth. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), 90 percent of this critical development occurs before the first day of kindergarten. That’s why it’s essential to invest in quality early childhood education (ECE). With these programs, we can provide Arkansas children with lasting benefits, including:

Enhanced school engagement: A quality ECE environment provides warm, nurturing, and responsive caregivers. These relationships stimulate neural connections that are a key part to early brain development. These neural connections allow children to create academic and life skills, such as effective communication, emotional regulation, cooperation, and problem solving. The AAP notes low-income kids see even greater rewards, with long-term gains in cognitive and social abilities. 

Improved physical and mental health: Quality ECE programs provide social interactions giving children the ability to develop self-esteem, confidence, and curiosity. With regular movement, either through indoor or outdoor play, kids are able to develop their gross and fine motor skills.

Stronger financial well-being: Studies show children who participate in ECE are more likely to graduate from high school and be high earners later in life. At the same time, these programs allow parents to participate in the workforce and increase their own earning potentials, creating a positive economic ripple effect.

The National Forum on Early Childhood Policy and Programs at Harvard University states quality ECE programs can yield up to a 9:1 return on investment (ROI). Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman at the University of Chicago confirms a 13 percent ROI for birth-to-five programs, with persistent boosts in education, health, and economic achievement. 

As AAP recently noted, “early childhood is our greatest opportunity to improve lifelong health and well-being.” Join Excel by Eight in promoting ECE investments to help all children in Arkansas thrive