September 5, 2017
This weekend I had the opportunity to read The Most Important Year: Pre-Kindergarten and the Future of Our Children by Suzanne Bouffard. Dr. Bouffard, through an examination of access to model pre-kindergarten programs across the country, sheds light on what we know is a pressing problem all across the country: access to affordable, high-quality early learning programs.
While am reminded in my work at the Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative every day that for far too many families access to high-quality early learning opportunities for their children depends on luck, a message echoed by Bouffard’s book, a few additional themes that Dr. Bouffard honed in on resonated and stuck with me.
First, I was reminded by the author that parents often aren’t quite sure what quality looks like. Quality in the earliest years of a child’s life aren’t about things that look “academic,” but instead are about the quality of the child’s relationships with adults and peers and about play. In fact, we know young children play to learn, and the highest quality programs place great value on play during a young child’s day.
Second, Dr. Bouffard’s book reminded me that despite what we know about what young children need to succeed in school and life, we continue to fail to make adequate public investments to give all children – particularly our most at-risk children – access to the quality early care and education they need to thrive.
It’s simple. Access to high-quality early learning beginning at birth shouldn’t be a lottery. It is something every child deserves. It doesn’t just make sense for one child, or one family…it makes sense for every community, every state, and for our country.
If you care about the future of our youngest children, Suzanne Bouffard’s book is worth the read.
Chief Executive Officer
Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative