At the Shikhar & Kristin Saxena Foundation one of our main areas of focus is education. Because we place great importance on addressing the root causes of the most significant issues facing children, we have taken a special interest in early childhood education. Robert Patterson, CEO of Kids Can Community Center, recently shared this article with me and I thought it was one of the best pieces I have read on the subject.
Although it is not new (it was originally published in March of 2012), this article clearly outlines why access to quality early childhood services is so important and what a significant difference it makes in social, educational, and economic outcomes. Children entering kindergarten with higher level social and academic skills not only do better in kindergarten, but also tend to do better in grade school, are less likely to drop out of high school, and are more likely to earn higher incomes as adults.
Federal and state governments have become more aware of the importance of early childhood education and have invested in programs such as Head Start to address this issue. However, early childhood programs receive far less funding than public education and many lower income families still cannot afford or do not have access to these programs. Additionally, the data also shows that poor children who attend preschool programs are less likely to be school ready than preschool attendees from higher socioeconomic backgrounds.
Children coming from lower socioeconomic backgrounds in the United States show significantly lower rates of school readiness at age five as compared to those children coming from moderate to high income families. It is clear that poverty is one of many interrelated influences on children’s school readiness. Factors such as the education level of the parents, marital status, mother’s age at birth, race/ ethnicity, low birth weight, smoking during pregnancy, maternal depression, and parent’s health, among others, also play a role.
Although there are multiple ways to address this discrepancy, this article demonstrates that the intervention with the highest likelihood for increasing school readiness among our community’s most economically disadvantaged children is access to preschool programs.
At the Kristin and Shikhar Saxena Foundation we are firm believers that ALL children in our community deserve access to QUALITY early education that will prepare them appropriately for school. Because school-readiness is such a key factor in promoting successful outcomes for our kids, it is important to invest wisely in those programs that use evidence-based strategies and show measurable success. I highly encourage you to take the time to read this article and to invest your time and resources in local programs that are addressing this issue head on.