The earliest years of childhood go by quickly, but their impact lasts forever. As much as 85 percent of critical human brain development occurs in a child’s first three years. Young children flourish when they are exposed to language, books, diverse experiences and developmentally appropriate learning. Most children living in poverty miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Thousands of our region’s economically disadvantaged children attend daycare that is little more than babysitting for 10 to 12 hours a day. While well-meaning, these centers are not always safe, and learning often comes from television and worksheets. If this is all young at-risk children are exposed to in their first three to five years, they arrive at school already behind.
With childhood poverty in North Texas expected to double in the next 25 years, our community must step up now. We must teach early and teach well to give all children a strong start. Educational First Steps is a nonprofit, privately funded organization that shows caregivers of at-risk children how to create high-quality early learning environments from birth onward.