Literature Review: Benefits of Early Childhood Education

Paper Type:  Literature review
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1801 Words
Date:  2022-06-05

Close to 90% of brain development occurs during the first five years of life, meaning that it is a critical window that marks the a significant stage of early education characterized by the development of new skills and the exploration of new learning opportunities (Lee, Zhai, Brooks-Gunn, Han & Waldfogel, 2014). Therefore, there is need for quality preschool programs that serve to develop emotional, social, and cognitive skills that the children need to engage in a productive learning process. It is worth noting that the benefits of a comprehensive, quality early childhood education continue well beyond the primary school, as they may are certainly applicable in the later stages of development. Some of the areas influenced positively by quality early childhood education include but not limited to the success in higher education, social life, and employment. It is imperative that children participate to extensive levels in quality early childhood education.

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Evidence suggests that quality early childhood education has far reaching individual benefits that entail emotional, cognitive, and emotional development of children that in most cases include their later stages of life including career. According to the European Commission (2014), education and learning do not start when a child enrolls in the mandatory curriculum, but rather it begins much sooner, meaning that the skill gaps definitely emerge before schooling. Early childhood education introduces the children to a more formal, organized system of learning that is different in context form the family setup. Notably, Intelligence Quotient is the measure of cognitive development in children (Slot, Leseman, Verhagen, & Mulder, 2015). Children who attend Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) tend to have higher educational attainment that the ones who did not. It means that the children who participate in early education have the propensity of performing better academics or schoolwork. Additionally, such children have higher probability of completing school.

Black et al (2017) argue that it is imperative to make substantial investment in early education since it portends higher returns and reduces the cost of investment in education in the later stages of development. Closely, related to this is the fact that investment in ECEC means that the child will spend relatively less time during leaner at the late stages. It is estimated that such a child spends close to 28% less time in education than the one who do not. The children have a higher probability of high school completion that is 49% higher than the ones who do not attend ECEC (Black et al., 2017). In addition, the children who go through early childhood education have close to 33% higher. Lee et al. (2014) argue that the children also have approximately 25% less chances of participating in special education, particularly in ages 9 and 14. The children who also attend the ECEC also have higher chances of post-secondary success that stands at 33% (Lee et al, 2014). It is imperative to note that measuring the cognitive skills among children is under serious debate due to the ethical and moral issues that arise, meaning that the statistics on the same is scarce due to the limited study. The debate on testing the preschool children for IQ or cognitive skills is currently gaining momentum. Various respected scholar in the field are profoundly against the idea of measuring the IQ of preschool children. The research on the difference in the cognitive abilities of the children has deep methodological problem associated with validity.

Lee et al. (2014) states that participation in ECEC improves children's behavioral, social, and emotional development. The current system of testing does not provide for the reflection of the children social, emotional, or behavioral achievement since it is mostly academic. Non-cognitive skills are eerily essential in the development and the ultimate functionality of an individual, but are not related to the degree or the inclination to learning. However, the possession of social or behavioral competencies is important in the labor market since it leads to harmonious relationship with the co-workers, which naturally translates into improved productivity. In this regard, the combination childcare and education that is present in various ECEC curriculums forms an integral part of development. It is difficult to separate or to differentiate the non-cognitive skills from the other factors that shape a child's development. Certain factors such as the family development at times prove to be the main factor that determines the behavior, personality, or the character of an individual or a child. Research proves that children from less from disadvantage backgrounds tend to have less emotional and social skills in comparisons to the others who grew up having such privileges.

Moss et al., (2016) posit that participation in the early childhood education has great benefits at the societal level as well. In the economic paradigm, the benefits usually take the form of improved revenues and reduced spending in the determinable or specific domains that include taxation or social security. A critical look at the identified benefits reveals that they are closely connected to the individual advantages. For example, in the United States, the government set up a program that aimed at getting every child (mostly children aged between 3 and 4) into the early childhood education or program. As expected, the program was quite costly; especially during the inception stages, the costs superseded the benefits. However, a mathematical estimation estimates that the benefits will exceed the costs in the estimated period since the program runs up to 2050. The benefits will form approximately 0.45% of the United States Gross Domestic Product (GDP) while the estimated cost will form only 0.2% of the GDP (Gertler et al., 2015). The quantification of the benefits is not readily available since it is difficult to carry out certain aspects of research on children or a particular age bracket.

Van Huizen et al (2016) carried out a research to determine the benefits of extending the ECEC to children in Spain. The authors reported that the financial benefits stood at 15 000 Euros while the total costs stood at only 3500 Euros per child at the end of the entire program. During that year (2004) close to 16 million children underwent through the program and the net impact formed 0.35% of the country's GDP (Van Laere, Peeters, and Vandenbroeck, 2012). The researchers further proved that the children were the main beneficiaries of the program. The program reduced the levels of grade retention among the children and improved their skills. Van Laere et al. posits that the parents also benefitted from the program since their average earning s for the mothers improved by close to 0.2% that represents an increase of close to 2 787 Euros (mainly to the increased earnings for the mothers). The grade retention earned the Spanish community close to 330 Euros due to grade retention and the increased retention that stood at about 2200 Euros (Van Laere et al., 2012). Evidently, the public expenditure on education will decrease because less number of students is enrolled in the special education program repeat classes, need additional training or lessons (Lee et al., 2014). Additionally, the number of dropouts also reduces significantly. Weighed against the benefits, the costs are seemingly much less, which means that the participation in the ECEC programs has greater advantages to the society.

Early childhood education also has great benefits in the labor market. It lets them acquire both social skills that are relevant even to the labor market. Besides the desire educational outcomes, participation in the EDEC has great interest in the interest in the labor market as well. Moss & Urban (2017) states that numerous studies show that children who attained early childhood education tend to have outcomes that are more favorable in the labor market than the ones who did not. Example of the aspects of the labor market that the beneficiaries of the ECEC tend to have more advantages include employability, access to employment opportunities, productivity, participation in various activities in the labor market, individual activities, and the earnings. Early childhood has the propensity of improving individual productivity, especially among the children from humble or poor backgrounds. Various studies in the European Union and the US show that there are long-lasting effects of participation in the ECEC in the attainment of education and the earning of higher wages. For example, the French government passed laws in the 1960s that improved the participation in ECEC form close to 40% to 92%. The increase in the attendance improved the earnings of the country and the individuals by approximately 3% and lowered the rates of school dropouts by 2% (Vandenbroeck and Lazzari, 2014). The above benefits are traceable directly to improvement in the education levels and the reduction of the numbers of the children who dropped out form school after the introduction of the program. Individuals who attain education earn higher wages on average.

As mentioned, early childhood improves the probability of a person attaining the highest possible levels of education by eliminating the probability of dropouts, meaning that such people have better chances in the labor or the employment market. For example, such people have high probabilities of landing a well paying job and are high employable (Lee et al., 2014). Education normally raises an individual's cognitive abilities and their productivity that naturally results into higher wages and other forms of remuneration that include better working conditions and fringe benefits. Education improves a person's mobility thereby reducing the cost of job search. Highly educated people have lower levels of employment rates, which make them less dependent on other benefits and any other forms of welfare benefits. Notably, a person's ability has a bearing on the wage levels. Therefore, it means that the level of earning is not entirely based on the education. Participation in ECEC also has great benefit to the parents. One of the most talked about benefits for the participation in the ECEC is the labor market benefits that it portends to the parents, especially the mothers. The number of women in the labor market is on the rise in the entire globe. The European Union and the United sates lead in that milestone. Consequently, there is a notable increase in the demand for childcare. Therefore, lack of affordable, accessible, and high quality early childhood education is definitely a barrier to the labor market. ECEC helps in the establishment of the work-life balance.


Black, M. M., Walker, S. P., Fernald, L. C., Andersen, C. T., DiGirolamo, A. M., Lu, C., ... & Devercelli, A. E. (2017). Early childhood development coming of age: science through the life course. The Lancet, 389(10064), 77-90.

European Commission, EACEA and Eurydice (2015a). Early Childhood Education and Care Systems in Europe, National Information Sheets - 2014/15, Eurydice - Facts and Figures. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.

Gertler, P., Heckman, J., Pinto, R., Zanolini, A., Vermeersch, C., Walker, S. & Grantham-McGregor, S. (2014). Labor market returns to an early childhood stimulation intervention in Jamaica. Science, 344(6187), 998-1001.

Lee, R., Zhai, F., Brooks-Gunn, J., Han, W. J., & Waldfogel, J. (2014). Head start participation and school readiness: Evidence from the early childhood longitudinal study-birth cohort. Developmental psychology, 50(1), 202.

Moss, P. and Urban, M. (2017). The...

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