Early Childhood Education
The EVSC believes that educating children before the age of 5 is crucial to their later successes. Through Early Childhood programs at four locations within the district, many children who did not previously have access to high-quality early childhood education programs, now do. Providing opportunities for all students and partnering with other agencies for the development of early childhood education centers is the core of the EVSC early childhood education initiative.
To learn about early childhood programs now operating in the EVSC, click here.
A 15-year study by The Journal of American Medical Association on the long-term effects on early childhood education revealed that study participants who had attended preschool had:
- A higher rate of high school completion
- Fewer arrests for juvenile crimes
- Lower rates of participation in special education programs and grade retention
A Good Beginning: Sending America's Children to School with the Social and Emotional Competence They Need to Succeed, a report by The Child Mental Health Foundations and Agencies Network (FAN), notes that "children who do not begin kindergarten socially and emotionally competent are often not successful in the early years of school—and can be plagued by behavioral, emotional, academic, and social development problems that follow them into adulthood."
Language development is one of the most important predictors of success. The availability of early childhood education programs is a vital part of development, especially for students facing socio-economic barriers.
Third-grade students from at-risk, low-income households have, on average, a vocabulary of around 4,000 words.
In comparison, third-grade students from higher-income households have a vocabulary containing an average of 12,000 words.
Prior Knowledge and Experience
The amount of prior knowledge and experience that a student enters school with is critical in the scaffolding of learning. Teachers share new concepts and ideas with children every day of the school year. Those concepts and ideas are built on an assumed level of understanding that is based on knowledge and experience.
But underserved children don’t always have that scaffolding to build on. For example: A student is presented with a problem to solve. He or she must choose between a screwdriver, hammer, or power drill to achieve the solution. If the student has never seen a power drill, he or she will not have any prior knowledge or experience with it. The student will not choose the power drill as a solution, simply because the student does not know what the drill is able to accomplish. The student may instead choose a hammer or screwdriver, a less or non-effective tool for the problem, but one with which they are familiar.
The experiences a child has prior to entering that classroom are crucial to his or her ability to adapt to new information and learn new skills.
The Carolina Abecedarian Project released a report that chronicles the long-lasting benefits of early childhood education. The study found that at age 21, individuals who had attended pre-K programs had:
- Higher IQ’s
- Higher reading and math test scores
- Higher graduation rates
- Higher rates of participation in four-year college programs
- Higher rates of delayed parenthood
- Higher rates of gainful employment
Currently, over 1,600 EVSC children begin kindergarten without any early childhood education. Those children are entering school behind. They need to be given a better chance at success.
Early Childhood Education Models
The goal of the early childhood education initiative is not to be in competition with programs that are already active in the community, but rather to add to our community’s capacity to serve these children. Currently, there is a waiting list of hundres of children wanting to attend these programs. Early childhood education programs that are currently active within Vanderburgh County include:
- CAPE Head Start
- The Carver Center