President Obama made history this week when he called for “high quality preschool for all” during the State of the Union address.
But why is this proposal so critical?
Erin Ramsey, Mind in the Making’s new Senior Program Director, offers her perspective:
We now know that learning begins at birth.
We also know that the relationships, environments, and the opportunities for learning are key factors in children’s healthy development. The brain is rapidly developing during the first five years of life and it is imperative that children are engaged in loving, trusting relationships; in safe, peaceful and stimulating environments and receiving good nutrition in order for the brain’s infrastructure to make the connections.
These factors are essential to school readiness and lifelong success.
As a country, we need to acknowledge the high level of poverty, the needs of working families and the impact these factors have on children. By creating a system that will increase accessibility, affordability and high quality early care and education we are strengthening every aspect of our country.
By increasing the number of children and families that can access high quality early childhood experiences we are increasing the likelihood that the promotion of executive functions of the brain will occur.
Executive functions include working memory, focus, inhibitory control and cognitive flexibility; they are often referred to as the air traffic control center of the brain.
New research indicates that executive functions can be indicators of better success in school and in life. “Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs,” by Ellen Galinsky combines the research and offers ideas to what adults can do to help set children up for optimal development.
(For more on how our nation will be able to finally have high-quality preschool for all, check out Galinsky’s Huffington Post article.)