Early Childhood Education in the North Country
Quality education for children from the ages of birth to five years old is one of the most influential factors that impacts the rest of their life. Most children in the North Country do not have an opportunity to receive a quality education until they are at least four or five years old, the universal age requirement to attend Kindergarten. This is because the North County has a lacking number of quality opportunities for early childhood education, this is a problem that is adding to the current poverty standings in St. Lawrence County. This needs to be solved before the title of 5th most impoverished county grows to number one. Throughout my time at St. Lawrence I have had the opportunity to participate in two Community Based Learning programs in early education programs settings and have been able to witness this issue first hand. From my freshman year experiences at Building Blocks Daycare in Potsdam to my senior year participation at St. Mary’s Nursery School.
St. Mary’s Nursery school offers a three-day per week program for student’s ages two-three years old for families that are able to pay the tuition rates of about $3,000 per year. So although this is a great program, not everyone in Canton can afford to pay these rates. Some of the other available opportunities in the North Country include universal Pre-K, which is available to all children in the state, regardless of the child’s abilities and family income” (Bird, 2013). Another available opportunity for young children is Head Start, which is a federally funded school readiness pre-school program for economically disadvantaged families and their children between ages three and five. The issues with these programs is that age level that is encompasses and the number of available spots in the classes. However this issue is more prevalent in Head Start Programs than UPK. According to James Heckman, a very influential activist for early childhood education, education and learning should start at birth in order for the child to reach full potential later in life. According to his research he found that “13% return on investment (ROI) for comprehensive, high-quality, birth-to-five early education (heckmanequation.org).
Heckman along with many other influential people in the field of early childhood education have done extensive researcher to prove the positive things early intervention brings. Some of these other groups include STAND for children, National Education Association (NEA), and the National Parent-Teacher Association. All of there people have a common goal in mind, finding ways to offer quality and affordable to all children ages’ birth to five years old. Whether this be in a school setting, online program, or in home visits, all are valuable.
This is one thing that needs more attention in the North Country and nothing can be done until light is brought to the issue. I encourage all students to participate in a CBL program or simply find ways to interact with children in the community and fight for more opportunities for the young children of this region. Positive everyday interaction with children can have a lasting effect on children’s lives and you can be the one to make that difference. In the long run, when young children of the North Country are fully educated starting at birth, eventually the poverty level will no longer be so low and more families will be living happier and healthier lives, and maybe they will have you to thank.
About Professor Heckman. (2017). Retrieved April 11, 2017, from https://heckmanequation.org/about-professor-heckman/
Bird, K. (2013, May 28). Rasmussen College. Retrieved April 11, 2017, from http://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/education/blog/universal-pre-k-what-is-it-why-affect-me/
The Economics of Human Potential. (n.d.). Retrieved March 13, 2017, from http://heckmanequation.org/