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Early childhood education teaches Olympic skills

March 5, 2018
Allison Baver
The Philadelphia Inquirer

Going from the top to rock bottom can happen in the blink of an eye. Or, the break of a leg.

At the 2009 International Skating Union World Cup in Sofia, Bulgaria, I was making a final pass to win the world championship. My teammate collided with me and I flew into the sideboards at 40 mph, and shattered my right leg and ankle.

The first doctor who examined me estimated that it might be three years before I would skate again—if I ever did.

I faced a tremendous challenge. But I was prepared. From a very early age, and throughout my life, my parents and coaches taught me resilience, patience, emotional control, and teamwork. Today, these traits are part of a group of abilities known as “executive-functioning skills,” and they’re skills that our youngest learners can discover through high-quality early education.

High-quality early care and education programs help children develop and grow in terms of social-emotional skills, behavioral skills, and more traditional academic skills like early math and reading. Research supports the idea of just how important learning these skills at a young age can be.

A recent report by Champions for America’s Future highlighted that students in high-quality early childhood programs can achieve a wide variety of positive outcomes. These benefits include better language development as early as age 2, higher test scores, lower rates of being held back in school, and more advanced math and reading levels.