Early childhood education is a major focus area for United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County. Research tells us that 90% of a child’s brain develops in their first five years of life, so development during these formative years is essential. It’s not just vital for children and their families but for our entire city as these young children need a strong foundation for when they become contributing adults in the workforce and our community.
Why is it so important to give children ages zero to five meaningful education opportunities? Early brain development has a lasting impact on a child’s capability to learn later in school and life. The quality of children’s experiences in their first few years of life shape how their brain develops. Additionally, a child’s development can be negatively impacted by adverse experiences. Unrelenting stress from extreme poverty, frequent abuse, family violence and maternal depression can be toxic to developing brains.
What happens when we fail to provide quality early childhood education? Children who aren’t reading proficiently by the third grade are four times more likely to drop out of school. The Annie. E. Casey Foundation discovered that 88 percent of students who failed to earn a high school diploma struggled with reading in the third grade. Adults who do not have a high school diploma earn less money and are more likely to be unemployed or live in poverty.
How can you help children in your family during these critical years? Reading and singing with your young children can boost pre-literacy skills. Having reading material in your home can also improve pre-literacy skills.
Four proven strategies that can be helpful for early childhood learning include:
- Encouraging a love of learning
- Focusing on breadth instead of depth
- Paying attention to emotional intelligence
- Do not treat early childhood education as merely a precursor to their “real” education later in life.
United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County’s Ready Children Impact Council works to ensure that all children grow up in safe, stable and nurturing environments. If they are given ample educational opportunities during these early years, they will become curious learners and be more capable of reaching their full potential.
We accomplish this by working with our Impact Partners to address challenges in our community like poverty, lack of access to prenatal care, domestic violence, quality child care and by promoting kinder readiness. Through our work, children in San Antonio are protected and better prepared for school and life.