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Do the early years matter? Marjorie Smith Thomas Coram Research Unit Institute of Education, University of London.

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Presentation on theme: "Do the early years matter? Marjorie Smith Thomas Coram Research Unit Institute of Education, University of London."— Presentation transcript:

1 Do the early years matter? Marjorie Smith Thomas Coram Research Unit Institute of Education, University of London

2 the relevance of the early years the importance of early intervention, including ECEC the importance of evidence.

3 The relevance of the early years

4 Research now shows that: “Many challenges in adult society have their roots in the early years of life, including major public health problems such as obesity, heart disease, and mental health problems. Experiences in early childhood are also related to criminality, problems in literacy and numeracy, and economic participation” Final Report of the Commission on Social Determinants of Health (2008). Geneva, World Health Organization.

5 Cohort studies have demonstrated that Quality of parenting impacts on: children’s health behaviour well being (emotional health) intelligence educational attainment

6 Mutual gaze Alert and responsive baby Increased talking to baby More alert and responsive baby Increased interactions with baby

7 Key attributes of parenting ‘capacity’. physical care; health care; protection from danger; education; adequate nutrition; opportunities for development; preparation for adulthood and independence; development of self esteem; opportunity for spirituality, identity, affection and trust; social and cognitive skills; stability of close relationships; economic support; moral guidance; and model adult behaviour, and self regulation. Campion (1995)

8 Intergenerational transmission of disadvantage Early social disadvantage Poorer performance at school Lower income and higher fertility in adulthood Poorer health care and nutrition in pregnancy Less empowered to provide stimulation to their own children

9 The importance of early intervention

10 “Each one of you is your own person, endowed with rights, worthy of respect and dignity. Each one of you deserves to have the best possible start in life, to complete a basic education of the highest quality, to be allowed to develop your full potential and provided the opportunities for meaningful participation in your communities.” Nelson Mandela and Graça Machel (UNICEF, 2000)

11 “Economists now assert on the basis of the available evidence that investment in early childhood is the most powerful investment a country can make, with returns over the life course many times the amount of the original investment.” WHO (2008)

12 Effects of Pre-school Preschool experience (compared to none) enhances all-round development in children Gains are greatest in social development Duration of attendance – starting earlier – is related to better intellectual outcomes Quality of provision is important – particularly for disadvantaged children Gains remain evident into early school years based (largely) on EPPE project findings, 2004

13 Results of pre schooling/early intervention Vary: as a function of the domain evaluated, and the timescale of the evaluation – Effects on intellectual development often ‘wash out’ – Impacts on academic learning (school readiness) vary with socioeconomic status – Findings on language impacts vary – some contradictory results

14 the importance – and potential pitfalls - of evidence

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16 Early versus later intervention For example, early speech and language problems minor problems more serious problems child's age severe problems


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