In the past decade or so, an increasing number of scientific studies have posited that giving a child high quality education in his or her early, developing years—from infant stages to the ages of five or six—can dramatically benefit his or her life later on. Without doubt, early educators are uniquely positioned to positively shape childrens' lives, as they interact with them during the human beings’ most sensitive growing and learning stages.
According to the Rand Corporation, the main areas that early educators need to focus on in their children are “cognitive functioning; behavioral, social, and self-regulatory capacities; and physical health.” Strong development in these areas has proven to help children avoid unfavorable situations, as well as a range of environmental stressors as they grow into adulthood.
Programs for early educators to positively shape children's lives typically fall into one of these three methodological structures: Parent Education, in which the school or facility’s administration set up programs—run most of the time by early educators, as well as social workers—that are concentrated on things like nutrition and exercise education, and that provide some kind of home-visiting service; Center-Based Education, in which early educators concentrate on children, giving them positive attention and helping them to attain the social and cognitive skills they need; or a combined parent and center approach, in which educators provide development assistance to children and also supplement these services with parent education and home visits.
Some of the situations or conditions that these early education or intervention programs can help prevent include: child maltreatment, academic underachievement, crime, delinquency, social welfare program usage, health problems, and behavioral troubles, among others. In one particular early education initiative called the Perry Preschool Program, researchers have measured lasting benefits in most child-participants for as much as thirty-five years after the point of intervention. According to researchers of the Abecedarian Early Childhood Intervention Project, which began in the 1970s at the University of North Carolina, children who were placed in quality intervention programs were expected to make more than $140,000 in their lifetime compared to those who were not enrolled in a similar program. Additionally, mothers of children who were enrolled in intervention programs earned a similar amount more in their lifetimes than mothers who did not enroll their children (National Education Association).
The Abscedarian Project focuses on both parent and child education, and prescribes individual attention to each growing child. While focusing on "social, emotional, and cognitive areas of development," educators are encouraged to lead their children in games to better engage and excite them about learning, cooperation, and healthy lifestyles. Often, educators are asked to create everyday classroom games that are interactive, but also cater to an individual childs’ needs.
As of late, government initiatives and campaigns such as First Lady Michelle Obamas’ "Let’s Move" have stressed the importance of children living more active lifestyles. Indeed, one of the most important things that you can do as an early educator is to teach your children healthy eating and exercise habits. Some things you can do include: providing healthy snacks; offering foods rich in iron; allowing children to brush their teeth during the day; teaching children the necessity of drinking water, and limiting sugar-filled drinks. While this is only one step, it has been proven to be a dramatically crucial component of raising children who will become healthy, well-adjusted, and active citizens.