Researches, implemented in different corners of the world confirm that early education is a very important investment in future academic development of the child; it’s also important for his personal and social development as well as for the development of the society. Researches have been held within completely different disciplines. Results of the researches reveal that human brain develops most actively at a preschool age. Hence, it is very important for the child to grow up in stimulating and secure environment, where he will feel secure, will be able to develop different skills and satisfy his curiosity.
Results of researches reveal as well that taking care of development of the child and his education are inseparable: “from one side love for children and from another side their education separately of course is not enough for child’s optimal development of the child”, also it should be noted that child’s psychic setup in this period permanently requires guardianship and participation of an adult.
Special place among researches regarding economic importance of an early education is held by a research by the Noble prize laureate James Heckman (The Heckman Equation), which analyzes results of investments placed in preschool education in different aspects. According to the scientist that the sum, invested into the preschool education brings the most “revenue” in years, which in some cases amounts to USD 8 to each spent USD 1. Heckman also highlights importance of investment into preschool education for socially or economically vulnerable children: researches, held in the science of education makes it obvious that preschool age is a critical period for development of speech and social development.
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Properly planned early education facilitates multilateral development of child’s skills, his preparation for school and further success in life. Let’s consider examples of some countries:
Research, which was held with participation of about 20 000 children of preschool age, revealed that the more child went to preschool educational institution the higher were his grades in all classes of the beginning level.
Result of positive influence proved to be continuous. Children living in a non-contributing environment have shown the most outstanding results.
According to the report of the random research held in the UK in 2003, preschool education facilitates social development of children, especially for children living in a non-contributing environment. Results are better when children of different backgrounds study together in a preschool educational institution. The more qualitative the educational program is and the more qualified teacher, the more positive result of research of development of the above-mentioned skills is.
According to the report of research, held California state in 2005, if the child went to preschool educational institution it was more probable that he would have finished secondary school, at an adult age – high salary and less unlikely he would be involved in any crime. Authors of the report assert that if at least 25% of children in California use preschool education services, the State will receive double revenue for each invested USD (for the year of 2005 only 5% of children at the age of 3 years and 11% of children at the age of 4 have used this service in California).
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According to results of researches held in New Zealand that children of 12 years of age, who went to preschool educational facilities fulfill math and reading tasks better. The difference is obvious when revenue of the family and education of parents is considered during statistical analysis.
Such researches, which approve special importance of preschool education for school, social and professional success of children are held in numerous countries. At the present many countries acknowledge crucial importance of education at this age and face the challenge of elaborating the policy, ensuring delivering of high-quality programs for each child of preschool age, especially for those, who are brought up in non-contributing conditions (poverty, unemployment, low level of parents’ education, lack of knowledge of state language etc.).
Current challenges of early education system
Recently, international organizations, such as The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and other pay special attention to analysis of the policy of early education in different countries and looking for the ways of improving system on the basis of research. For that end standards, elaborated by member organizations of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), should be taken into consideration, which is an indicator of quality of education and status of availability.
10 main points contain the following minimal standards:
- Maternity leave up to one year with compensation of 50% of salary;
- National strategy, paying special attention to children, living in a non-contributing environment;
- Services of taking care over subsidized and regulated child for 25% of children at the age of 3 years;
- Subsidized and accredited services of early education for 80% of children of 4 years of age;
- Corresponding professional training of 80% of employees of child care institutions;
- Higher education of 50% of employees of accredited institutions of an early education;
- Minimal correlation 1:15 of employees and children at the institution of early education;
- Allocation of 1% of GDP for ensuring services for children at an early age;
- Children’s poverty not more than 10%;
- Insurance of almost all children with services of general medicine.
Only one country – Sweden confirms to all 10 above points, 9 points – Island, 8 – Denmark, Finland, France and Norway. It is provided that standards require substantial involvement of the state in early development and education of the child, which in some developed countries is traditionally considered to be obligation of private sector and family. That’s why it is not a surprise that such countries as for example Ireland, USA, Australia, Spain, and Canada confirm only to three or less points. At the same time it is hard to compare systems existing in different countries only on the grounds of the above-mentioned criteria. For example: let’s consider one of indicators of the quality - corresponding professional training of 80% of employees of child care institutions. In some countries conception of “corresponding professional training” may be apprehended differently; in one case one month training may be implied, in another two year education at the level of higher education. Notwithstanding this fact, minimal standards represent a kind of guideline for countries, which are ready to spend state resources in order to make quality early education available for children.