Sunday, January 8, 2012

Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone! We here at the Early Care & Learning Council hope you enjoyed your holiday season! We’ve made a few changes, including this blog! Take a look around to check out our other posts so far and check back for updates. Asil Ozdogru, Evaluation Specialist, keeps us up to date with information on current opportunities and research available. Jessica Klos, Policy Associate, keeps us informed on what’s happening at the capitol and what we can do to make sure our youngest citizens are being heard. We’ve been busy!

For me, the combination of the holiday rush and the exciting work we are doing here at the Council led to some odd, but interesting dreams. One morning a few days after Christmas I woke and had to laugh. In my dream our Executive Director, Marsha Basloe, had requested that all of our work be completed in LEGO form.  We, in my dreamland, created some impressive structures! It was no mystery why LEGOs crept into my subconscious. In the days following each Christmas, I spend many hours over several days helping my son construct whatever LEGO sets he has received as gifts. Often LEGOs are his only request and ends up with a set from everyone who wishes to give him a present; this multitude of tiny plastic blocks suits him just fine. 

If you’ve purchased LEGOs in the past few years you may have notice that they can be quite pricey. Even the smallest sets carry a relatively hefty price tag, but in my opinion, (and this is just an opinion and no way an endorsement of one particular children’s toy over another) they are worth the investment. Assembling the LEGO sets is something my son and I enjoy doing together. You can’t put a price on those experiences. He is needing my help less and less as he gets older but it’s still “our thing” and I hope when he no longer wants my assistance or (gulp) grows out of playing with toys, he holds on to those memories as tightly as I will. Aside from the quality time they inspire, the LEGOs provide significant cognitive experience for him. First he is challenged by interpreting and following the directions. Later he endlessly re-imagines and reassembles the LEGOs to create creatures and structures, that until he puts them together, only exist in his head. It would be difficult to calculate the return on investment, but I’d say it’s pretty good. 

You know what else has an excellent return on investment? Quality early care and learning programs. Children who experience quality early care and education are less likely to repeat grades in school, less likely to need special education and more likely to graduate high school. That’s not just good for the child, that’s good for everyone. Quite simply, investing in early childhood programs means a better start for kids and lower costs for taxpayers in the long run. The similarities between those little plastic blocks and the investment in early education inspired me to follow my dream and do my work in LEGO form. Below you will see the return on investment for the child, the tax payer and society for every dollar invested in early childhood. To be fair I have only recreated a chart that already exists, but in LEGO form. The credit for the original chart goes to Bruner et al., Early Learning Left Out.

Click below to learn more about each study

Make an investment in quality early care and learning for all children by becoming a Friend of the Early Care & Learning Council. 

We hope you too can follow your dreams this year!

Director of Communications,
Research & Development

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