I was reviewing information on student drop-out rates, a huge problem in our country, particularly in the inner-cities. Student drop-out rates are extremely high, nearly 50 percent in some cities. These numbers are a precursor to many other societal problems such as delinquency, crime, violence, drug sales, and more. The student drop-out rate indeed presents a scary, potent problem.
ECE shown to reduce school drop-out rate
I found it interesting that the National Drop-Out Prevention Center has published research on the importance of Early Childhood Education (ECE) as a solution to reduce drop-out rates among at-risk student populations. The organization notes the shared characteristics of quality Early Childhood Education programs:
- Exploratory and
- Integrative of interactive learning across the curriculum
Of particular importance was the nature and environment of the classroom. In particular, classrooms should intentionally involve these shared characteristics.
Our emotional health research also indicates that safety is an incredibly important factor in providing care for pre-school children. Basic safety means that staff are aware of basic principles of emotional and relational health as they apply to preschool-aged children. Issues such as discipline, developmental tasks, temperaments, attachment, brain development learning capabilities, social and emotional development (as well as other concepts) are key to understanding child development. In addition, with at-risk populations, trauma-lenses and understanding of family issues are essential to providing an effective quality ECE Center.
The significant, stand-out issue is that effective early childhood education is a deterrent to juvenile delinquency and reduces school drop-outs. It makes sense that children who are prepared and healthy when they enter regular school are less likely to become truant or drop out. This is yet another benefit of investing in ECE centers and staff.
An ECE program is a type of early prevention that we greatly need to begin reducing critical social problems within our at-risk community. Quality early childhood education is one way we can truly support our most vulnerable children and their families.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network