Overwhelming evidence shows that children who enter kindergarten behind are likely to remain behind throughout their educational careers and beyond. These gaps in achievement are difficult and expensive to close with K-12 education alone, and they can last a lifetime.

Preparing a child for kindergarten requires a focus on five areas of development that begin at birth and are influenced by quality early experiences: 

  • Physical well-being and motor development
  • Social and emotional development
  • Cognitive skills
  • Language and developing literacy
  • The ability to concentrate and follow directions

Investments in early childhood development lay the foundation for school readiness by building these cognitive and character skills that children need to do well in school and in life, including attentiveness, persistence, impulse control and sociability.

The research tells us:

  1. Child care quality has a long-term effect on children’s cognitive and socioemotional development through kindergarten and beyond. 
  2. Children who enter kindergarten behind their peers academically are more likely to stay behind for the rest of their education.
  3. High-quality early childhood education reduces attendees’ timidity and improves attentiveness.
  4. High-quality early learning programs aimed at children from low-income families help close the achievement gap, increasing IQ scores by up to 10 points.
  5. Preschool reduced the percentage of children repeating a grade by 15%.
  6. Preschool lowered the rate of special education placement by 10%.
  7. Early learning and care increases high school graduation rates by 14%.
  8. Early language skills, the foundation for reading ability and school readiness, are acquired and built during the first years of life. Children who are exposed to reading during the first years of life are much more likely to learn to read on schedule.
  9. When a young child enters kindergarten ready for school, there is an 82% chance that child will master basic skills by age 11, compared with a 45% chance for children who are not school ready.