The importance of early learning: Building a strong foundation for lifelong learning

Learning to read begins long before children enter school. That’s because children need to build crucial language and literacy skills up over the early years in order to read well later. And strong early skills matter. If children enter kindergarten with strong language, thinking and self-management skills, they are likely to have success throughout elementary and middle school.

How can children build those skills? Research shows that during the preschool years (ages 3-5), children benefit when:

  • They have back-and-forth conversations with parents and caregivers that are vocabulary-rich and engaging 
  • They are read to and have conversations about books that go beyond the page
  • They have daily routines and ways to practice regulation and awareness of others

Unfortunately, children enter kindergarten and first grade with vastly different levels of knowledge, and these differences affect how they do in the early school years, and in the years to come. For parents and caregivers, it’s all about making sure children are steeped in meaningful experiences and rich language, building both personal connections, social-emotional skills, and vocabulary and knowledge from an early age. These skills act as a child’s foundation for reading development, and lifelong learning.

For more information on how early learning sets up children for long term success see our post, Laying the Foundation for High School Reading with 3-year olds, or refer to our Research page.

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