The Big Deal about ECE: Why Atlanta Should Pay Attention
By Blythe Keeler Robinson, President and CEO, Sheltering Arms
By 2025, more than 60% of jobs will require some form of post-secondary education, according to Learn4Life’s State of Education in Metro Atlanta Report. That can be alarming when you consider the fact that two out of every 10 students in the metro area are dropping out of high school.
These children may be the ones we will depend on to take care of us in our later years or the ones who will defend our country or the ones who will lead our communities. What does this mean for our future, and what can we do to help them get prepared?
Let’s first take a step back. Much of what we need to succeed in life is established before we even enter kindergarten. From the time a child is born, the brain is immediately in developmental overdrive. From as early as six weeks of age, quality early learning programs begin working with children to build their cognitive skills – the foundation for reading, math, science and academics – and character skills, gross-motor skills and executive functioning. Kindergarten, though, begins at the age of 5 or 6 for most children, after major brain development has occurred. By the time many children get there, they are not prepared.
For decades, researchers have concluded that children who attend quality early learning programs are more likely to graduate from high school and attend college, earn higher incomes and avoid criminal activity. In 2018, only 25% of metro Atlanta’s kids attended this type of program.
This is why it is essential that we invest in Atlanta’s earliest learners now. If we don’t, we pay the high costs later – through the criminal justice system and lost productivity in the workforce.
Fortunately, Georgia has early learning champions and advocacy organizations like GEEARS (Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students) that work diligently to push policies that could help make quality early childhood education accessible and affordable. Our mission at Sheltering Arms is to make sure they are more than ready when they leave our program and enter elementary school.
Children are, indeed, our future. As we prepare them today for success tomorrow, we help create a better, brighter Atlanta.
To learn more about Sheltering Arms, visit shelteringarmsforkids.com.
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