Get them while they are young A baby forms 700 new neural connections per second
Get them while they're young: A baby forms 700 new neural connections per second.
October 21, 2015 — 8:39 AM EDT
Teacher with class of kids with raised hands
Brain science and economics show that intervening to help children when they're very young is more cost-effective than waiting until they're in school. That's the conclusion of a new report from the Bridgespan Group and the Pritzker Children's Initiative. The report's lead author, J.B. Pritzker, is an entrepreneur and philanthropist; his sister, Penny, is the U.S. secretary of commerce.
Here are 10 claims sprinkled through the 67-page report for the benefits of investing in early interventions in the lives of disadvantaged children. They're drawn mostly from others' research. These are direct quotes:
- Ninety percent of physical brain development occurs in the first three years of life, when a baby forms 700 new neural connections per second.
- When a young child enters kindergarten ready for school, there is an 82 percent chance that child will master basic skills by age 11, compared with a 45 percent chance for children who are not school ready.
- Later in life, at-risk children who do not get high-quality early childhood experiences are 25 percent more likely to drop out of school, 40 percent more likely to become teen parents, and 60 percent less likely to attend college.
- Comprehensive early interventions that combine health, nutrition, and learning have the potential to reduce risk factors associated with chronic diseases, such as hypertension and high blood sugar, well into adulthood.
- Investment in high-quality early childhood programs for at-risk children from birth to age five delivers a 7–10 percent [annual] return on investment through better education, health, social and economic outcomes, increased productivity, and the reduced need for social spending.
- Lifetime earnings gains from increased enrollment in early childhood education would outweigh the costs of these programs (the estimated gain in lifetime income per participant is $9,166 to $30,851 after subtracting the cost of the programs).
- Combined annual per capita public spending at the state and federal level on education for six- to eighteen-year-olds is nearly four times as high as spending on children from birth to five.
- The United States ranks 31st in a group of 32 developed nations in the percentage of public education dollars allocated to early childhood.
- Evidence-based home visitation programs reached only 115,000 children in 2014, an estimated 2.5 percent of the need.
- Over the 2011–12 school year, the proportion of children in three- and four-star [child-care and education] centers with age-appropriate skills increased from 33 percent to nearly 66 percent.
Katherine Kaufmann, a co-author of the paper who is a partner at Bridgespan, says her colleagues came up with one other statistic on their own—and in some ways it's the most important: Half of all children entering kindergarten are low-income (entitled to free or reduced-price lunch) and half of low-income children aren't fully ready for kindergarten when they enter. Which means that one in four children entering kindergarten are both low-income and not ready to learn. That's the Pritzker Children's Initiative's target population. Says Kaufmann: "Here's this critical milestone in our children's lives that we're not managing particularly well."
Source: Bloomberg Business