Resources for Choosing Quality Pre-School Experiences
Iowa State University Study – 2003
A 2003 study by Iowa State University provides disturbing findings related to the early learning experiences of our state’s children. Key findings in their research are:
- Much of Iowa’s child care is of poor or mediocre quality.
- Over all, 20% of all observed Iowa child care was judged to be good, 58 percent was judged to be mediocre, and 22% percent was poor.
- Nearly 20% of the observed infant child care centers in Iowa offered poor quality care; none were offering good quality care.
- About 40% of the observed family child care homes offered poor quality care.
In addition, Iowa’s early childhood caregivers report:
- Lower levels of education (than other states)
- Low income
- Lack of benefits
- High turnover rates
- Inadequate training history
Early Education Research
Studies show that from infancy through about age 10, brain cells not only form most of the connections they will maintain throughout life, but during this time they retain their greatest malleability. Fortunately, statistics show that a majority of kids do attend at least one year of preschool. According to the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), more than two-thirds of 4-year-olds and more than 40 percent of 3-year-olds were enrolled in a preschool in 2005. As more children are living in two-parent working families, it is likely that this number will continue to increase.
At the same time, not all preschools are equal. In fact, current research is clear that only high-quality early childhood experiences demonstrate the early and lasting effects on brain development and cognition. Children who experience high-quality, stable preschools engage in more complex play, demonstrate more secure attachments to adults and other children, and score higher on measures of thinking ability and language development. High-quality environments such as these can predict academic success, adjustment to school, and reduced behavioral problems for children throughout elementary school. More children who receive high-quality early education graduate from high school than the children who do not receive high-quality early education (65% vs. 45%), particularly females (84% vs. 32%).