In today’s time and tough economy a good education must be a top priority. Are our children receiving the best education possible? America was once the best educated nation in the world. Now the United States ranks seventeenth out of forty countries in overall educational performance according to The Learning Curve report, developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit. (US 17th In Global Education Ranking, par. 1) These higher ranking countries promote a culture that is supportive of education and the understanding of the importance of good teachers in improving educational output.
To improve our education system we must place a greater emphasis on the early education, parent involvement and quality teachers. By doing this we will be able to become one of the top ranking nations again. Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. ” Early learning education is a far greater tool for success. (The Importance of Early Childhood Education, par. 1) Studies have shown that a child’s earliest years of development are the most critical with 85% of the brain developing by age five.
Since children are most receptive to information during this time, early learning exposure plays an essential role in fostering mental development. The years prior to kindergarten are critical in shaping key academic, social, and cognitive skills that determine a child’s success in school and life. A high-quality early learning program can help children arrive in kindergarten ready to succeed. Expanding access to high quality early childhood education is among the smartest investments that we can make.
Participation in high-quality early learning programs, like Head Start, public and private preschool, and childcare, will provide children from all backgrounds with a strong start and a foundation for school success. These programs also generate a significant return on investment for society; numerous economic studies have documented a rate of return of $7 or more on each dollar invested through a reduced need for spending on other services, such as remedial education, grade repetition, and special education, as well as increased productivity and earnings for these children as adults. (Education Knowledge and Skills, par. 2)
Appropriate early childhood programs contribute to physical, emotional and social development as well as school readiness. High-quality preschools recognize the importance of providing an environment that teaches and nurtures children to learn. In fact, a high quality early childhood education can result in a higher level of education and a better job with more pay later on. Early education programs not only improve children’s cognitive abilities but also crucial behavioral traits like motivation and self-esteem.
Young children learn social skills when they interact with other children. Interacting with other children means learning how to wait, how to take turns, and how to listen. Children will be exposed to activities and materials that promote basic math concepts, language development, science, problem solving, technology, cause and effect, literacy, and physical development. Early education focuses on developing the whole child not just one skill. “There is no program and no policy that can substitute for a parent who is involved in their child’s education from day one. —President Barack Obama (ESEA Reauthorization, par. 1) Parents and other family members play an important role in supporting their child’s growth and development. The parent after all is the child’s first teacher. Children are more likely to lead healthy, productive lives when both parents are actively involved in their educational achievement and behavior. They maintain higher grades, test scores and graduation rates, have better attendance, increased motivation, better self-esteem, lower suspension rates, decreased use of drugs and alcohol, and fewer instances of violent behavior.
The earlier in a child’s educational process parent’s become involved, the more powerful the effects. The most effective forms are those, which engage parents in working directly with their children on learning activities at home. (“What research says about parent involvement,” par. 2 & 3) The research has shown that quality teaching matters to student learning. Teacher quality has been consistently identified as one of the most important school-based factor in student achievement. A quality teacher is one who has a positive effect on student learning and development.
Quality teachers are life-long learners in their subject areas, teach with commitment, and are reflective upon their teaching practice. They transfer knowledge of their subject matter and the learning process through good communication, diagnostic skills, understanding of different learning styles and cultural influences, knowledge about child development, and the ability to use different teaching techniques to meet student needs. They set high expectations and support students in achieving them.
They establish an environment conducive to learning, and make available resources outside as well as inside the classroom. Quality teachers have a lasting effect on the student’s academic career. (High impact philanthropy to improve teaching quality, p. 7) Anyone that has children wants them to get a good start in school. If we as a society would change our opinion and all view a quality education as an important factor to our success then we could make significant changes to our public school system.
If more emphasis and funding was put into the early education system more children would arrive in kindergarten with the skills they need to learn. If more parents would become involved with their children’s education from the beginning then the children would see the importance of being motivated to do their best. And of course with more quality teachers students would strive to succeed. One can see how all these factors could make great changes in our education system and help more the United States back on top in overall educational performance.