Although this article in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Early Education May Make Lifelong Dividends, doesn’t quite make the cut for relevant and poignant journalism due to its lack of cutting-edge information, it does summarize some of the obvious benefits of early childhood education.
I continue to be dumbfounded by the fact that our country doesn’t provide free, quality educational experiences for our children from the minute their families put them in childcare. When I say “educational experiences” I don’t mean strapping toddlers into neatly-aligned desks and making them “do school” at an earlier age. I mean we should provide them with nurturing and stimulating environments that cultivate their independence, curiosity, reasoning skills, sense of trust, language development, and socialization.
Italian educator Maria Montessori placed an enormous emphasis on the young child as a learner and a self-teacher. She explained that children are their own teachers starting from birth. They begin teaching themselves by absorbing the environment. For example, they teach themselves to talk simply by observing and replicating the people around them.
In recent decades, research has proven many of Montessori’s theories about the malleability and sensitivity of the young child’s mind (see Maria Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius). But it seems like common sense; children’s brains grow and develop rapidly as soon as they are born (and even earlier!). We should provide them with educational environments that maximize the developments of their minds.
Yes, it is expensive to provide government-subsidized childcare. But if we, as a nation, can spend $275 million per day on war in Iraq, then we can surely invest in something that can promote peace: our children.