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The Importance of Early Education

April 3, 2016 by Dr. Laurel Parker West


There is no sweeter sound than hearing your 3-year-old daughter ask, “Mommy, do you want to know what I’m curious about?” Why? Because this question is a delightful reminder that my daughter was lucky enough to be enrolled in a high-quality pre-K program where the skilled teachers encouraged a child’s curiosity and empowered her to use words like “curious” to express her interests even as a 3-year old.

At GOOD+ Foundation, it is my job to ensure that we are helping low-income preschoolers participate in equally high-quality early learning experiences. By 3rd grade, children from middle-income families with well-educated parents know about 12,000 words. For low-income children with less educated parents, their vocabularies are only about 4,000 words—one third the number of words as wealthier children. As an antipoverty organization, GOOD+ Foundation knows that intervening early in a child’s life is the best way to help break the cycle of multi-generational poverty. And, this is the time when we have the greatest opportunity to really make a difference. Studies show that for every dollar invested in high-quality pre-school, our return on investment is about $7 per child in increased earnings and in savings down the road.

This is why we partner with outstanding Early Head Start and Head Start programs as well as innovative early literacy programs and early intervention programs designed to identify educational delays before a child is even enrolled in elementary school. Our early education program partners strategically use GOOD+ donations to increase enrollment in their programs and to enrich the casework and home visiting components of these comprehensive early education programs.

One of our Head Start teachers at a program partner in Watts shared this example of how a partnership with GOOD+ Foundation has helped enrich the home visiting and parental involvement components of their early education program.

"We incentivize parents with diapers, books, and other GOOD+ donated items in order to have them attend as many parent meetings and socialization visits as possible. For items like diapers, we want the parents to complete at least 2-3 meetings in a month. And for the smaller items, we ask that they complete at least 1 full meeting. In addition, GOOD+ items are used as a reward for parent participation when no home visitations are cancelled during the month. We have a single mother with a 2-year-old child who slowly became motivated to participate more and come to more meetings because of the donated items. She eventually reached a point in the program where she had attended all of the monthly meetings. Now she is our representative who attends parent policy council meetings and reports back to the parents at our monthly parent meetings. Thanks to these incentives we were able to entice this mother to participate and she genuinely became involved in her daughter’s education."

We want every child to receive the educational resources they need to grow and thrive. By partnering with exceptional early education partners, we know that even more preschoolers will be able to express how curious and inquisitive and interested and engaged and delighted they are in any number of topics in their classrooms, their neighborhoods, and their homes.

jessica seinfelddr. laurel parker westearly educationpreschool educationanti poverty organizationhead startmake a differenceliteracy programslow-income householdsgood+ foundation


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