What do kindergartens have to do with neural connections?
If a child does not have desirable experiences in aspects such as nutrition and responsive and sensitive care, brain development may be undermined. These effects can be biologically printed and persist throughout life. Child care services have a lot to do with it, and if they are deficient, they will adversely affect children. Poor quality gardens, where there are many children per educator, and with little individualized routines and receptive to needs, could endanger the “mental capital” of children.
The danger of a poor-quality kindergarten
During the first years the brain “expects” certain inputs (conversation, rich vocabulary, caring, sensitive and receptive care), but if those supplies do not arrive, the brain wiring does not occur. The effects will be particularly negative if the lack of inputs occurs in the critical period of development, during the first three years of life. Given the low quality of kindergartens in America, it is not surprising that their impact has been modest or even negative. You need to know more about this reality for a better design of public policies that cover the problem of counterfactual care. More information is also required to perform a cost-benefit analysis of the dynamic effects of kindergartens on long-term child development.
Today there are early learning centre programs that are used by professionals in children with disabilities as well as in children with a medium or high IQ.
What public policies to implement?
In this context, are kindergartens a good investment for the region? To answer this question, it is important to understand some points:
Access to these services for children ages 4 and 5 are already regulated by the laws of several countries in the region. Likewise, the evidence is clear as to the positive effects they may have on future school performance. What must be distinguished and discussed with greater care is the impact of quality care in children aged 0 to 3 years, when brain development is in its most effervescent period. So, access is quite imperative, and it helps in early learning of the children.
The dichotomy between home visits and full-time gardens as the only alternatives for American children, from a public policy point of view, is false. As we have discussed on some occasions, paid maternity and paternity leave must be included in the options menu. However, this is not a sufficient policy given the low levels of formality in the region. It is also worth considering more innovative schemes such as those proposed by the Secretariat of Care in Uruguay, of community care homes where a duly authorized caregiver can carry out their work inside their home or in a qualified community physical space for that end. There are also proposed schemes from the health centers, which, although not oriented to increase female labor participation, would help in the task of raising the same parents who use the gardens. In this way, the parents would have adequate resources for parenting, where when the child returned home each afternoon, he would meet a present and receptive adult, thus counteracting the effects of having spent several hours in a care center.
Only half of women in many areas work. Those who are mothers pay a very high price in the labor market. A recent article in the American Economic Review reveals that the long-term effects of fertility on women’s wages are significant and persistent, particularly in hourly wages (not so much in employment) and after the first child (the effect of subsequent children is not significant). This dynamic effect could tip the balance in favor of the gardens based on a cost-benefit analysis. However, it is not clear whether mothers would take full advantage of this resource. Is it that the mothers in the first case do not work full time because there are not enough gardens that offer a whole day or vice versa?
It should be emphasized that well-designed and implemented gardens have to be able to respond to the needs of working mothers in the region, particularly those from less favored socioeconomic strata, which are the ones that least demand them. They can really help. They can increase the attention of the children, which helps in improving their overall capabilities.
How to evaluate which policy is better?
The loss in terms of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by women who do not work is 3.5 to 16.8 points, and the cost of not correcting inequalities in early childhood is similar.
On the one hand, it is the parenting support programs, in health centers or through home visits, that have had the greatest impact on child development.
Without further research and no finer measures of non-cognitive development and long-term follow - up, which simultaneously measure child development and female labor participation, we will not be able to know if gardens are a good investment for the region.
What is and what is the purpose of early stimulation?
Its importance lies in the fact that in this age group cognitive and emotional and physical abilities are developed and matured that is fundamental for the correct biopsychosocial functioning of the child, such as language, memory, perception, spatial sense, motor skills, the reasoning... It could be said that at these ages the Central Nervous System is like a sponge whose pace of development is comparable, continuing with the metaphor, with formula 1. At this stage (especially between 0 and 4 years), the main neuronal connections are formed, which makes the brain a moldable cognitive mechanism that will accommodate new learning much more easily than when. Afterwards, the circuits responsible for learning They have already been consolidated, changing more slowly as the age progresses.
The fundamental objectives are that the child understands and expresses himself, controls his movements (fine and gross motor skills), regulates his emotions, develops or enhances his intellectual capacity and develops with autonomy as close as possible to his chronological age.
Experts say that early stimulation involves changes that are favored by the intense neuronal plasticity that occurred during these ages (0-6 years). And that its correct use means becoming an adult with cognitive qualities that benefit the quality of life (academic field), work, personal...), as Albert Schweitzer said: "Seizing the right moment is the key to life."
Early learning is important for kids in several ways. It enhances their cognitive and intellectual abilities. It not only improves their academic performance but also grooms their personality as a whole. In the modern age, parents are concerned about their children’s development and now taking great interest in early learning.C