former Senior Vice President, Monsanto
Director of Quality and Business Engagement, SC First Steps
The Early Childhood Task Force (“ECTF”) is a partnership between business and education stakeholders to advocate for the importance of early childhood education and school readiness programs in the first five years of life. This mission is grounded in new research on the human brain showing that the most critical development occurs during the first three years of life. If that development is stunted by lack of stimulation, low verbal interactions, or other factors, it can never be recovered. Brain scans show that the temporal lobes of a normal three-year-old are far more developed than that of a severely neglected three-year-old. Click here to see the brain scans and more information.
While recent legislation has increased access to four-year-old kindergarten and provided for early literacy and school readiness assessments, research indicates that programs are needed to address the issues critical to development from birth to three years as well. The ECTF hopes to illuminate the various areas in which parents, community leaders, and educators can make a difference in outcomes, help identify programs to meet desired goals, and help to address financial and implementation issues encountered.
The ECTF is developing the following resources:
- Survey of current early childhood research;
- Evidenced-based early childhood programs;
- Cost and scalability of effective early childhood programs; and
- Parent outreach tool.
WHAT IS “SCHOOL READINESS”?
“School readiness” means the level of child development necessary to ensure success in early school. A lack of readiness for school creates obstacles often too difficult to overcome in later years.
School readiness is measured in the following domains:
- Physical health and motor skills – includes bigger muscle movements like walking, running, jumping, and swimming, as well as more refined movements like writing, drawing, cutting, and manipulation of small objects.
- Emotional and social competence – includes sharing, following simple rules, and persistence in a task.
- Language and literacy development – includes recognitions of certain letters and/or words, understand that print conveys meaning, comprehension of simple stories, and using writing to convey meaning.
- Mathematical thinking – includes understanding of simple math concepts like “more and less,” counting, grouping, and beginning to understand the concept of addition and subtraction.
- Cognitive Skills – includes ability to hold attention, ability to recall information, reason, and solve problems.