The importance of early learning for lifelong success (or, “Why now?”)

Investing your time and energy into your young children in their first years of life sets the stage for lifelong success. Here’s why.

ChildrenSharingKidaptive is a company whose long-term mission is to contribute to the disruption of current educational practice and the transformation of how children learn.  Our first title, Leo’s Pad, focuses on learners between about 2 and 6 years of age.  As our first blog post, we thought it’d be good to explain why this age range is so important and how much parents can do to support their children through these years.

First, the importance: Developmental neuroscience research has shown that crucial cognitive capacities (so-called “executive functions”) such as inhibitory control (the ability to suppress an impulse to, say, knock something over or glance out the window), working memory (what you use to mentally manipulate information, sort of like a computer’s RAM), and cognitive flexibility (the ability to adjust when the rules change, or even the game itself) undergo rapid development between the ages of 3 and 6 years.  And these executive functions have been shown to predict academic achievement even after adjusting for children’s IQ.  In fact, these early years are so important to future academic (and thereafter economic and societal) success that Nobel laureate James Heckman has written that the single most economically efficient investment we could make is to “invest in the foundation of school readiness from birth to age 5…”

Second, what parents can do: It seems daunting that our children’s academic and economic futures depend so heavily on their experiences in the first few years of their lives.  But that’s actually good news, because these are the years when we as parents have the most power to shape those experiences.  The conversations we have with our children (which can and should start even before they’re born!), the games we play with our children (play being the single most important learning tool young children have), and the ways we help our children understand their place in the world (modeling, scaffolding, explaining, directing, and encouraging) make all the difference.

In upcoming posts, we will dive deeper into all of these concepts.  Our goal will always be to arm you as parents with the tools you need to support your learners.  Each post will be short and easy to understand, and each post will close with a takeaway point: a tip, suggested activity, or neat fact that you can use right away.

For today, the takeaway is a simple point: Investing your time and energy into your young children in their first few years of life will yield greater dividends than similar investments at any other time (with the early teen years being a close second, for complex reasons that we can discuss another time).

Oh, and one last thing: If you ever want more details on any of these posts (references, further reading, etc.), please just ask in the comments section!  We are academics, and academics always (should) have tons of references to back up their claims.

Looking forward to a long and fruitful series of conversations,
Dylan

3 responses to “The importance of early learning for lifelong success (or, “Why now?”)”

  1. Shara Lawrence-Weiss (@MommyPerks) says :

    I fully agree with this: “Investing your time and energy into your young children in their first few years of life will yield greater dividends than similar investments at any other time (with the early teen years being a close second, for complex reasons that we can discuss another time).” I really enjoyed reading your post; thanks again.

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