Early Childhood Education: Impact on Cognitive and Social Development

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Early Childhood Education: Impact on Cognitive and Social Development Liberty University
COUN 502 Human Growth and Development
Dr. David W. Appleby
Jennifer M. Wallace
October 8, 2012

Abstract
There has been a great deal of research conducted in the subject matter of early childhood education. During the preschool years, the human brain is growing rapidly and extremely sensitive to new information. Researchers have conducted studies in an effort to show a correlation between enrollment in early education and cognitive and social development. This paper will provide a brief overview of the results from the following: the Head Start program studies, the High/Scope Perry Preschool study, and the Child Parent Center in Chicago. This paper will also discuss the impact of childcare facilities on child development. The vast amount of research provided by these studies effectively shows an increase in cognitive development in the preschoolers that were enrolled and found that negative social behaviors were reduced as a result of early education intervention. The research indicates that all children exhibited signs of cognitive and social growth, but that underprivileged children were impacted the most. Child- care facilities were not as productive furthering childhood development. This paper will conclude by addressing the need of well-developed preschool programs and the need for well-educated teachers in the preschool environment.

Keywords: early childhood education, preschool, cognitive and social development

Early Childhood Education: Impact on Cognitive and Social Development
Preschool is a term that defines early childhood education for children ranging from ages two through four years old. Preschool programs normally consist of federally funded programs, state and local preschools, and child care facilities. Preschool enrollment has increased dramatically over the last few decades. Approximately 75% of four year olds and 50% of three year olds are enrolled in a preschool center, which is a statistically significant contrast from 10% in the 1960’s (Barnett, 2008). Not only has there been an increase of children enrolled in public preschools, but also in private preschools (Barnett, 2008). This increase may be attributed to the need for childcare as the work force shifted from a single income to dual income household or the desire to equip children with the necessary skills to help them in their educational career (Barnett & Yarosz, 2007). Winter and Kelley (2008) reported that many early childhood teachers found that nearly one-third of their students were deficient in certain areas that were sure to hinder their educational success (p. 260). There have been many studies conducted to try and define the impact of preschool on a child’s development. Researchers have studied Head Start programs across the country, the High/Scope Perry Preschool, the Child Parent Center in Chicago among others, and child care facilities. Early Childhood Education research has shown that preschool has an impact on a child’s cognitive and social development, with the greatest impact on minority and disadvantaged children. Developing Brain

Most parents and educators know that a child’s brain, from birth to approximately five years of age, is exceptionally vulnerable to the learning of new skills and concepts. Winter and Kelley (2008) state that the “neural connections or ‘synapses’ develop at a phenomenal rate during this time” which aids in developing a “foundation for later skill acquisition” (p. 263). Due to the brains extreme susceptibility during the preschool years, not only do preschoolers develop cognitive skills they need, but also socio-emotional skills.

Mai, Tardif, Doan, Liu, Gehring, and Luo (2011) conducted a study of positive and negative feedback in preschoolers, which showed that preschoolers are “more responsive to positive feedback than to negative feedback” (p. 5). They...
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