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early childhood education

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The Review Univ. of Delaware / Flickr CC / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Poor kids in Michigan, and across the country, do worse in school than their wealthier peers.

That’s particularly true for kids attending schools where most of the other students are also low-income, too. Schools that do manage to get kids in concentrated poverty performing on par with wealthier peers are the exception.

This information is probably not all that surprising to you. But if you need a visual aid, take a look at where the bottom 5% of schools are in Michigan. 

young children in classroom
BLOOMBERRIES / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0 / FLICKR

The first three years of a child's life are really important. Every experience and interaction builds connections in the brain that can last a lifetime. The more enriching the environment is, the better the brain develops. 

For working parents, this means that finding high-quality child care is essential. But quality doesn't come cheap. Day care can cost almost as much as in-state college tuition. The state of Michigan does provide a financial subsidy for child care, but it is reserved for the poorest of the poor. 

Preschoolers
Seattle Parks / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

From kindergarten through high school, I attended schools with pretty racially diverse student populations. I've seen that same diversity reflected in the friendships I've maintained throughout my life.

And it turns out those interracial relationships may have actually helped my development.

Kids and teacher
U.S. Department of Education / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

State of Opportunity has reported on the importance of early childhood education time and time again.

5 reasons you should enroll your kid in preschool

Jun 7, 2016
Preschoolers
Seattle Parks / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

In the fall, my youngest daughter will start preschool.Even though the thought of dropping her off and leaving her with strangers for the first time in her life causes me angst, I plan to fight through it.

Young boy doing homework
Eric Cuthbert / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

When my oldest daughter started preschool, I was surprised by the amount of homework she would get. She was only four years old, but already bringing home a packet of worksheets on Monday to finish by Friday.

It's been a long time since my own preschool and kindergarten years, but I don't recall having such a rigorous curriculum. I do, however, remember playing and "doing" in the classroom.

Lucelia Ribeiro / Flickr Creative Commons

Many low-income, black, and Hispanic students start kindergarten without the academic skills they need to succeed.

Compared to their white peers, African American and Hispanic kids are anywhere from 9 to 10 months behind in math and 7 to 12 months behind in reading when they enter kindergarten.

Five reasons you should be reading to baby from birth

Mar 18, 2016
Donnie Ray Jones / Flickr Creative Commons / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

New parents are often bombarded with advice and tips from everyone around them.

From things like how to dress your baby, to what to feed them, it can be a bit overwhelming.

But there is one piece of advice the American Academy of Pediatrics wants to make sure you follow: Reading to your baby from the time they're born. 

Dustin Dwyer

Shortly before 10 a.m., the tall strangers in business suits arrive for their tour.

"Morning," says Denise Brown, who is not a stranger, and not in a suit. She leads this early childhood program at Campus Elementary in Grand Rapids. She's today's tour guide for the tall strangers in suits.

"Wow, I’m overwhelmed with 20 of you," Brown says. 

Two years ago, the state of Michigan made a major new investment in preschool. Since then, state funding to help four year olds attend preschool has more than doubled. About 14,000 more children now have access to preschool.

Many of the tall strangers on this tour were deeply involved in making that investment happen. But they're not done yet. And today's event is, ultimately, about keeping the movement going. 

There is ample evidence that talking to your children early and often can truly make a difference in their future success. The challenge lies is getting all parents to do it - specifically low-income parents whose children historically start kindergarten with far fewer words than their wealthier counterparts. This article highlights a new program in Rhode Island called Providence Talks, "the most ingenious of several new programs across the country that encourage low-income parents to talk more frequently with their kids."

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