It is possible to tell a story with numbers. In early learning, there are so many statistics that often get used and recycled to emphasize certain points, whether they deal with percentages, whole numbers of fractions.
It’s a good exercise to pause, step back and reflect on the individual messages each statistic conveys. Doing so makes it possible to notice the overall picture or trend of early learning.
Early learning, also known as early childhood education, refers to the education a child receives from birth to age 8, which roughly corresponds to the grade 3 in most school systems.
Early Learning Statistics and Commentary
In this article, we cover early learning statistics from zero to a hundred, divided into 10 sections. As statistics can be spun in many different ways, we provide commentary on each number as we start from zero and make our way to hundred.
0 and Up
- School readiness begins from birth, and there are skills to be developed in infants from 0-12 months.
Turns out early learning begins at birth! There are developmental milestones listed as early as 2 months. Early Head Start Programs serve infants and toddlers under the age of 3. It shows why there is a need for systematic education for that age group as well.
- $1 billion was awarded to the Head Start Program in the United States as a part of the American Rescue Plan.
This additional $1 billion brings the total Head Start (ages 3-5) and Early Head Start (ages 0-3) funding to above $10 billion for 2021.
- There was an average missed learning of 2 months throughout the world in kindergarten through third grade.
The pandemic affected all facets of life, including early childhood education. In the crucial early years of development, the 2 missed months of learning can have a compounded effect later on if not addressed.
- There was little to no disruption for 10 % of 3-5 year olds who remained in the same program on the same pre-pandemic schedule during the pandemic.
Only 1 out of 10 schoolchildren had any sense of continuity during the course of COVID-19. Again, the threat of discontinuity and inconsistency of education in the crucial early years is something that should be examined more closely.
- Children’s academic success at ages 9 and 10 are determined by the amount of conversation they heard from birth to age 3.
There are multiple variations of this one statistic, but it demonstrates the necessity of parental involvement in the early years to instill oral communication in their children. Development of oral language is an important indicator of success in the later years.
- Going to preschool reduces the rate of special education placement by 10%.
This is extremely important to take into account, not because of the lack of importance of special education (which is very much needed), but the costs of special education placements and the fact that such placements are preventable via early enrollment.
- Students from minority communities attended school districts that received nearly 13% less in state and local funding compared to those school districts that had fewer students of colour.
Education inequity is something that cannot be swept under the rug. With the expansion of high-quality and affordable early learning programs, there is hope that such inequity will dissipate over time. Especially if the best support is provided in the early years, it acts as an outstanding equalizer regarding school preparedness.
- Early learning increases high school graduation rates by 14%.
Supporting the last point, this is again a reminder that attending and progressing from preschool to grade three is linked to academic success later on. Thus it’s very important to extend whatever support that is necessary during this time period.
- Going to preschool reduces the chance of being held back in a grade by 15%.
Before one can even graduate highschool, as mentioned in the last point, it is important that they progress through each grade. This further establishes the link between enrolling early into a school system and successful graduation years later.
- Each dollar spent on a high-quality preschool program can yield a 2 to 17 times return on investment.
The benefits of preschool attendance do not stop at academic success. When considering everything the child eventually contributes to the economy and the society, the ROI is thoroughly justified.
- Children growing up in homes with 20 or more books receive an equivalent of 3 years of more schooling.
Education resources, both inside and outside the classroom, are so important to early childhood development. Books are one of the best sources for learning, which can be read to kids, and which kids can learn to read themselves.
- Pre-k enrollment during the pandemic in the US declined by 22%.
Given everything that is discussed thus far on the importance of pre-k, it’s discouraging to see that a major catastrophe such as a pandemic or natural disaster can discourage enrollment in pre-k. Even if remote learning can be arranged at such times, situational stress and safety concerns seem to have a discouraging effect on enrollment.
- Socio-emotional skills gained by early learners contribute to academic motivation, which is responsible for 30% of the effects on student achievement.
There are other forms of learning, besides just cognitive, which have a tremendous impact on both academic and non-academic success for a child.
- Children in wealthier families hear 32 million more words by the time they reach age 4.
In the very famous study conducted by Hart and Risely, where children from wealthier families were exposed to a certain number of words in an hour, it turned out that difference added up to be a massive advantage by the time they turned 4.
Admittedly, the statistic is worded to provide maximum shock, but the point still stands. Expanding vocabulary in the early years is paramount.
- 34% of 4 year olds in the US were not enrolled in preschool in 2020.
After all aforementioned benefits of preschool, the fact remains that a sizable chunk of children who are not enrolled in preschool. The reasons for this are wide-ranging. Understanding them would help address the causes of education inequity.
- Early learning programs lead to 40% reduction in lifetime arrests.
There are positive and negative externalities of early childhood education. Most of the positives have been mentioned such as graduating high school and becoming a productive member of society.
It also helps to look at what can be avoided, such as crime. This happens when young students are beneficiaries of an education program that goes beyond just academics and teaches them values.
- Effective teaching can improve student performance by up to 45 percentile points.
No early learning program is successful without effective teachers. When teachers have the right resources and infrastructure, they are able to do their work well and make a huge difference in early learning.
- 49% of 3 year olds in the US were not enrolled in preschool in 2020.
Almost half of the 3 year old children in the US were not enrolled in preschool in 2020. This is in contrast 34% of 4 year olds who were not enrolled in preschool. It makes sense that the older children get, the greater the likelihood they will be admitted to school.
But on the heels of everything mentioned in this article about the importance of starting early, there is a lot more work to be done in providing access to high-quality education to 3 year olds.
- Children’s books have 50% more rare words than primetime television.
Pound for pound, books are one of the best resources for learning. Not worksheets, or tablets, but traditional paper books. Even if meant for children, they are designed to fast-track learning and provide a type of learning experience that is more permanent. It’s why here at Spig Learning, levelled readers and storybooks are such an essential part of our early learning programs.
- 60% of teachers in the US rated the effectiveness of remote learning between one and three out of ten.
Remote learning may be great as a contingency plan, but it is not the preferred method for teaching. Transitioning out of the pandemic, both students and teachers would favour in-person classrooms for high-quality learning.
- 65% of 3-4 year olds whose parents did not complete high school are not enrolled in preschool.
This speaks to the intergenerational nature of the inequity in education. It’s been found that when two successive generations of people are educated by the Head Start Program, the latter generation fares better because of improved parenting from previous Head Start attendees.
- 70% of elementary school principals say that they could not meet their students’ mental health needs with the staff they had.
This is why educating the whole child is so important, rather than focusing on academics only. Holistic learning is a great approach that focuses on the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual side of growth which can mitigate any emergent conditions later on.
- In NYC, the lowest annual fee for a private school is $1280, while the highest is $72,725.
Based on all these statistics, it’s clear that there is a need for preschool. Sprig Learning has written on the qualities that make a high-quality preschool program before. This statistic however looks at the private sector, and it just demonstrates just how much value can be added on to a program in terms of quality.
- 75% of children from middle-income families started school “ready to learn”, compared to 48% of children from low-income families.
Inequity emerges again as a major issue, as kids from families who make less income are less prepared for kindergarten. Assistance is required. There is a window of opportunity to address this discrepancy in the early years of learning.
- When universal preschool was made freely available in Washington D.C, labor force participation for women rose from 65% to 76%.
Beyond education, providing a high-quality learning environment helps families as well who can trust that their children are being well looked after. It strengthens families by allowing them to better manage their time, and giving them confidence knowing they are being supported by teachers and the greater community. Learn about how community plays a key role in holistic learning.
- Children who enter kindergarten ready for school have an 82% chance of mastering basic learning skills by age 11, compared to a 45% chance for those who do not.
Previously, we saw that children from higher income families are better prepared when entering school. This statistic is an extension of that, which shows exactly how those who enter kindergarten ready to learn, can then benefit from the schooling that is provided.
- By age 3, approximately 85% of the brain’s core structure is formed.
This is a throwback to the beginning of the article that zoomed in on early development. Indeed, most of the brain develops by age 3, the age when most kids enroll into preschool. Learning truly begins in the home. It is best when early learning programs include a learn-at-home component through which parents are supported to help their child’s learning at home.
- There is a 90% likelihood that, in the absence of additional instructional support, a poor reader in 1st grade will remain a poor reader.
This is a chilling statistic that shows how important preschool and kindergarten are for taking corrective measures to fix or optimize the learning capacity of the child in question. It’s good to have multiple formative assessments during that period of learning, to identify all learning opportunities before it’s too late.
- 98% of Americans believe that a good teacher can change the course of a student’s life.
A teachers’ role in the early learning process simply cannot be understated. There is curriculum, content and methods of assessment, but it’s the teacher who varies instruction in all these areas to best educate a young student according to their unique abilities.
- Over 100 activities were conducted across Canada by Indigenous organizations and the government of Canada to inform a better understanding of existing Indigenous early learning and child care systems.
While most of the earlier statistics mention the need for high-quality early learning programs, it is not possible to achieve quality with the considerations of all stakeholders.
When designing early learning programs, respecting the various diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds of communities is extremely important.
That brings our article to a close. Hard hitting early learning numbers, from zero to hundred. Going through all of the statistics offers a lot of takeaways. In summary:
1. There is so much research that points to the benefits of prioritizing high-quality education in the earlier years. Starting early is crucial when it comes to educating young learners. It sets the foundation and tone for the rest of their student journey.
2. Inequity is linked to accessibility. Even if the benefits of early learning are thoroughly understood, expanding such programs to all will remain a challenge for years to come. Certain high-quality aspects of the program might have to be scaled quickly. Sprig Learning can help with that. Reach out to us to know how we can help.