The return of investment in early childhood education

It is worth every penny that you spend on your child’s education.

Living in New York is expensive. Raising a child in New York is even more expensive. If it takes a Nobel Economics Laureate to convince you that the investment in early childhood education is worth it, let it be professor Heckman from University of Chicago.

A report by the Department of Agriculture showed that a middle-income, married couple with two children is estimated to spend $233,610 to raise a child born in 2015. And families can expect to spend between $12,350 and nearly $14,000 a year on average to raise a child [1].

Professor Heckman argued that the best way to reduce deficits is to invest in quality early childhood development, especially for disadvantaged children, because it creates better education, health, social and economic outcomes that increase revenue and reduce need for costly social spending [2].

Brain researchers have shown that brains develop at an astonishing speed at the early stages, and it slows down in later years. It put pre-school at the center stage of a child’s development, because it is during the formative years of a child.

The study found that the positive effect of quality pre-k program not only create a stronger, richer and fuller life for the children, but also a better life for their mothers. There are many single parent households in the United States, when the parent drop off their kids at the daycare and then go to work, the environment of the daycare provides an enhanced attention for the child. And when the child goes home in the evening, the parents can further engage with the child. These kinds of daycare are often times very expensive, it costs between $16,000 — $18,000 per year. But the benefit from these programs are enormous in later years. Because the children not only get health screening, they also obtain social, emotional skills and self-control. From a monetary perspective, the benefit of quality early childhood education can be seen from reduced health risks and lower crime rates, and it is a 13% return of investment for a comprehensive, high-quality birth to five early education [3].

So what makes a good pre-k program and a good teacher?

Professor Heckman explains that a whole body of evidence has shown that engagement with the child is essential, and empathy is the number one trait for a good teacher. A good childcare program essentially fulfills the need of what a good loving parent would do. And the program should supplement the resources that the child has at home [4].

Even though early childhood education is getting more and more expensive, especially when you live in a city like New York where rent is taking up most of the paycheck. It is important to engage with your child and to dedicate enough time to them as they are growing.

However, it is important to keep in mind that each child learns in different ways. While the parents might be paying a lot of money putting their child in top private pre-schools, the child might not feel comfortable in a large classroom environment.

There are just as many alternative schools that inspire love for learning, curiosity and individuality of the child. If you are interested in learning more about these play-based and project based alternative education, click here to learn more.