A Case for Investing in Quality Early Childhood Education Programs
This paper builds on the Landscape Report on Early Grade Literacy 1, which outlined the evidence base for how children learn to read and understand text. In alignment with the Report, this paper draws attention to the critical importance of developing a strong foundation, in reading and in all developmental domains, as a prerequisite to all later reading and learning success. Children’s environments and experiences during early childhood shape their developing brains, influence what knowledge, skills and attitudes they bring with them to school, and determine their trajectory for success in school and life. The abilities and attitudes children acquire before grade one form the foundation upon which all later learning will occur. The more all of the developmental domains are developed, the stronger the foundation and the more able children will be to learn, to read, and to succeed in the early grades. Many interventions, such as USAID’s Early Grade Reading programs, begin once children are in school, missing the window of opportunity to lay a strong foundation. Interventions that reach children before they start school—at home and in early childhood education programs—set children up for reading success.