Early Learning

Early Learning:
America's Middle Class Promise Begins Early

“Research confirms what every parent knows: that the first five years of a child’s life matter greatly in determining what sort of adult he is likely to become…That’s why President Obama and I believe we must expand access to high-quality early childhood education.”

Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education

The Challenge

The early years in a child's life build the foundation needed for success later in school and life. This period is a critically important window of opportunity where profound developments in reasoning, language acquisition, and problem solving occur. These years are particularly key for children from low-income families, children with disabilities, and English learners, who's access to high-quality early learning opportunities may determine their success in kindergarten and beyond.

Each year, about 4 million children enter kindergarten in the United States. All parents hope their child will start school ready for success. And many parents turn that hope into action, seeking out supportive and high-quality early learning opportunities. Unfortunately, not every parent finds those opportunities, and access differs based on geography, race and income.

As a result, too many children enter kindergarten a year or more behind their classmates in academic and social-emotional skills. For some children, starting out school from behind can trap them in a cycle of continuous catch-up in their learning. As a nation, we must ensure that all children, regardless of income or race have access to high-quality preschool opportunities.

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Last Modified: 09/23/2015