Did you know that 90% of brain development happens before age five? That means that the foundation for all our future learning and lifelong habits happen during these amazing early years.

Here’s something else that is important to know. All the things that help our young children grow strong and get ready for school – responsive relationships, healthy meals, safe spaces to play, explore, and learn – also improve their lifelong health. That’s right. Young children who have high quality early care and education experiences are not only better prepared for school socially and academically, they will experience fewer physical and mental health challenges throughout their lives. And they are more likely to graduate from college, hold down jobs, and have meaningful relationships with their families. A strong start really does lead to a bright future.

A child’s early years are magical. Let’s make the most of them! As a parent, you are doing that every day when you read, play, and sing with your child. You are modeling important skills for them when you navigate difficult situations or talk through what made you feel sad and why. High quality early learning programs build on what you are already doing to support your child’s development with the added benefit of providing built-in socialization opportunities with other young children. Early learning environments help children learn to share, play with others, and wait their turn, and let’s be honest, even some adults could brush up on these important skills, too.

Another benefit of being part of an early learning program is that early learning professionals are especially attuned to young children’s key stages of development. They are sometimes the first to notice developmental delays in children and alert caregivers to follow up with their pediatricians, early intervention, school districts and specialists for additional potential support. There are many different types of early childhood care and education programs out there with different philosophies and learning environments. Look for a place where your child is warmly welcomed. Where safety and health are priorities, and where learning happens through play. Choose a program where children experience language and words through books, songs, and meaningful conversations with their caregivers.

Early learning programs can be expensive, and quality early care and education might strain a family’s resources. Quality care should not be out of reach for any family. 

We know that caring for young children is a community-wide effort, and we are here to help connect parents and caregivers to the resources and programs that are the right fit for them so that our children can take flight!

Please contact the Collaboration for Early Childhood at parents@collab4kids.org or by calling 708-613-6122 ext 8 to learn more about early learning program options and affordability.

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