This article originally appeared in WalletHub on April 18, 2018.
What Are The Most Important Steps Parents Can Take To Help Their Children Grow Up Healthy?
During the earliest years of a child’s life, 700-1,000 new neural connections form every second. These connections are influenced by genes and experiences.
If children are provided a stimulating and supportive learning environment as part of child care or pre-K education programs, they have a greater chance of starting school ready to succeed. Parents can explore and learn about the impact of early childhood education experiences beginning at birth through pre-school age. This is a time in which the brain is built rapidly, laying the foundation for social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development. Understanding that this is a critical period in a child’s development is a great first step.
When kids start school ready to learn, they are shown to have more positive health and academic outcomes. A follow up to the Chicago Longitudinal Study determined that children who had access to early education were more likely to stay in school and attend college; have health insurance coverage; lower rates of incarceration and depressive symptoms; higher rates of full-time employment; and, lower rates of disability. This is especially important for the growing proportion of American children living in poverty. Only a fraction of these children access such services.