Best Beginnings believes research and study increase our awareness and understanding of the value of investing in young children. Although we provide links to a variety of related reports below, please note that inclusion on this list does not constitute an endorsement from Best Beginnings.
Items are organized by the following topics:
- Early Learning Defined
- Brain Development
- 30 Million Word Gap
- Economic Impact of Early Childhood Development
- Alaska Research and Reports
- Assessing and Improving Early Learning
- Kindergarten Readiness Resources and Reports
- Quality Early Learning and Its Return
- Early Learning and the Business Community
Early Learning Defined
- Mind in the Making – The Science of Early Learning has created a document that helps explain what early learning is, some misconceptions about it, and more.
- The Baby Brain Map reveals the secrets of how early care enriches development. Organized in an easy to use Q & A format, this is a great resource to learn more about brain development.
- Head start for little language learners – Research from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences provides additional insight into how infants process and understand language.
- Brain Development and its Implications – A Preschool Policy Brief issued by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER).
- Children’s healthy diets lead to healthier IQ – Children fed healthy diets in early age may have a slightly higher IQ, while those on heavier junk food diets may have a slightly reduced IQ, according to new research from the University of Adelaide.
- The Roots of Bilingualism – According to Krista Byers-Heinlein, Tracey C. Burns, and Janet F. Werker, when parents speak two languages during pregnancy, their baby learns about both languages prenatally. The study also shows that babies can actually register differences between the two languages.
- Speaking in Tones – According to Diana Deutsch, professor at University of California, San Diego, music and language are so closely intertwined that awareness of music is critical to a baby’s language development.
- The Timing and Quality of Early Experiences Combine to Shape Brain Architecture: Working Paper #5 summarizes in clear language the most recent scientific advances in understanding the importance of sensitive periods on brain development, and the implications of those findings for policy.
- Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development presents evidence about “brain wiring” and how children learn to speak, think, and regulate their behavior. It also examines the effect of the climate–family, child care, community–within which the child grows.
30 Million Word Gap
- “The Early Catastrophe: The 30 Million Word Gap by Age 3,” by Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley – a brief explanation of the findings in their landmark book, Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children
- Language gap between rich and poor children begins in infancy, Stanford psychologists find. Low-income children show achievement gaps in language development as early as 18 months.
- New Research on Early Disparities – Overview of research with additional resources for teachers and families by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
Economic Impact of Early Childhood Development
- Cost savings of school readiness per additional at-risk child in Detroit and Michigan details the savings when at-risk children are prepared to succeed in school.
- Starting Smart & Finishing Strong: Fixing the Cracks in America’s Work Force Pipeline Through Investments in Early Childhood Development – Advocates for investment in early childhood to meet America’s future work force needs.
- Meeting America’s Energy Work Force Needs TOMORROW Means Meeting the Developmental Needs of Young Children TODAY – Details the importance of early childhood development in preparing a work force ready to meet the needs of the energy industry.
- Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study – The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study is one of the largest investigations ever conducted on the links between childhood maltreatment and health and well-being later in life.
- Long-Term Economic Benefits of Investing in Early Childhood Programs – In two separate reports for the Partnership for America’s Economic Success, William Dickens and Charles Baschnagel of the University of Maryland, and Timothy Bartik of the Upjohn Institute, estimate the long-term economic impacts of publicly funded early childhood development programs.
- Parenting Education is Economic Development– This brief sets out the ways that parenting education programs can help give parents the tools to start their kids down a path to be the future workers and citizens that businesses and communities need. View the full report.
- Early Childhood Development: Economic Development with a High Public Returnby economists Art Rolnick and Rob Grunewald makes the case that for any proposed economic development list, early childhood development should be at the top. The return on investment from early childhood development is extraordinary, resulting in better working public schools, more educated workers, and less crime
- Many Happy Returns: Three Economic Models that Make the Case for School Readiness, a report by the State Early Childhood Policy Technical Assistance Network, explores the economic benefits of early childhood programs and how they can produce three different types of economic benefits.
Alaska Research and Reports
- The 2014 Kids Count Data Book, considers 16 indicators in education, health, economic well-being, and family and community. Read more about Alaska’s profile.
- Economic Impact of Early Education and Child Care Services in Alaska, is a 2006 report prepared for the System for Early Education Development (SEED) that measured the economic impact of businesses, organizations, and individuals that provide early education and child care services to Alaska children under 6 years of age. (UPDATE: 2011 report now available)
- Kindergarten Developmental Profiles, district-by-district results of assessments of children as they enter kindergarten, compiled by the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development.
- The State of Preschool 2011: State Preschool Yearbook shows Alaska’s pre-K program, in its second year of implementation, maintained all 10 research-based quality standards benchmarks established by the nonpartisan National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University.
- Alaska Obesity Facts: Alaskans rank obesity as the top health issue for children and believe responsibility for the problem rests not only with parents. Schools, doctors, the food industry, and government all bear some responsibility, according to Obesity Fact Sheets produced by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.
- Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems Plan represents the past, present, and future. It incorporates the thinking from several past planning efforts as well as new ideas and solutions; recognizes the needs of today’s young children and their families; promotes “best practices,” those proven to be most successful; and gives Alaskans a vision for the future.
- Kids Count Alaska presents a broad picture of the well-being of Alaska children, providing parents, policymakers, and others interested in the welfare of children with information they need to improve life for children and families. The report is prepared annually by the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER),University of Alaska Anchorage, as part of a nationwide program to collect and publicize information about children’s health, safety, and economic status.
- The Childhood Understanding Behaviors Survey (CUBS) surveys mothers to collect information about health behaviors and experiences of 3-year-old children in Alaska before they enter school.
- Learning: Is There an App for That? is a three-part report from The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop which looks at new trends in smartphone apps, the results of three studies on apps as potential learning tools, and the implications of these findings. Published in 2010.
- Growing up With Books Boosts Child’s Education Attainment – According to a 20-year study led by Associate Professor Mariah Evans, University of Nevada, Reno, parents who have books in the home increase the level of education their children will attain.
- ZERO TO THREE National Parent Survey, conducted by Hart Research Associates, identifies what information and support sources parents turn to when facing parenting challenges, echoing some of the findings of a Best Beginnings study conducted in 2007.
- Why Spoiled Babies Grow Up to Be Smarter, Kinder Kids highlights three studies, which suggest the same thing: children who are shown more affection early in life reap big benefits. Researchers found kids who were held more by their parents, whose cries received quick responses in infancy, and who were disciplined without corporal punishment were kinder later in life.
- Tempering Temper Tantrums, Researchers at Penn State University found a connection between children’s early language skills and their ability to manage anger and frustration — meaning less temper tantrums — when they turned 3 and 4.
- Babies whose efforts are praised become more motivated kids – Stanford University researchers found that praising efforts rather than innate smarts helps children become more motivated and eager to face challenges later.
Assessing and Improving Early Learning
- Starting Well: Benchmarking early education across the world – Commissioned by the Lien Foundation and managed by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), this report ranks preschool environments in 45 countries.
- Inspiring Innovation: Creative State Financing Structures for Infant-Toddler Services – Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma have developed innovative financing to support services for at-risk infants and toddlers. This policy brief from Zero to Three and the Ounce of Prevention Fund highlights these models and the valuable lessons they offer for other states. Download the order form to request a free print copy.
- Early Childhood Program Evaluations: A Decision-Maker’s Guide is a clear, concise guide from the National Forum on Early Childhood Program Evaluation helps prepare decision-makers to be better consumers of evaluation information by posing five key questions that address both the substance and the practical utility of rigorous evaluation research.
- Taking Stock: Assessing and Improving Early Childhood Learning and Program Quality is a report from the National Early Childhood Accountability Task Force that was formed in April 2005 by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Foundation for Child Development, and the Joyce Foundation. Their charge was to “develop recommendations for a state accountability system for early education programs for prekindergarten children and for linking such efforts to standards-based assessment efforts in kindergarten and the primary grades.”
- Effective Early Childhood Education Programs: A Systematic Review – Early education programs are not all the same, nor do they have the same outcomes. This report systematically reviews research on the outcomes of programs that teach young children in a group setting before they begin kindergarten. Of the 28 different programs that were evaluated on specific criteria, six showed strong evidence of effectiveness and five had moderate evidence of effectiveness.
- Is Your Family Kindergarten Ready? In a sense, a kindergarten-ready child is a reflection of a kindergarten-ready family. The Urban Child Institute provides both supporting research and practical steps for families.
- Developing Kindergarten Readiness and Other Large-Scale Assessment Systems: Necessary Considerations in the Assessment of Young Children – Over the past few years, interest in assessing children as they enter kindergarten has gained momentum in states.The Center for Applied Research at the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has developed this guidance to support states’ development and implementation of kindergarten readiness assessment systems.
- What does “ready for school” mean? Is there a definitive set of criteria that determines whether a child is ready to enter school? Should there be? Prepared for Kindergarten: What Does “Readiness” Mean? and the NAEYC’s Where We Stand on School Readiness explore what we know about readiness and how it may be improved.
- Child Trends’ A Review of School Readiness Practices in the States outlines key policy considerations for developing and utilizing school readiness assessments at the state level. Researchers analyzed state approaches to school readiness assessments in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. NOTE: Alaska is featured in this report as one of only seven states to administer a school readiness assessment to children upon school entry to monitor statewide readiness. View summary >>
- Here Comes Kindergarten, written by kindergarten teacher Francie Alexander for Scholastic Parents, provides five recommendations for helping prepare children for school.
- Count Down to Kindergarten from Scholastic.com is a collection of resources for kindergarten readiness, covering everything from when to start kindergarten and how to prepare children to choosing a program and teacher.
- Kindergarten: Ready or Not?, appearing in Alaska Baby & Child Magazine, highlights recommendations from Alaska early child professionals.
- I am ready! a lively brochure from the Alaska Dept. of Education & Early Development, outlines what’s expected by kindergarten and how you can help prepare your child.
Quality Early Learning and Its Return
- Early education reduces risky health behaviors explores the link between early education programs and interventions on the cohort’s adult health.
- The Carolina Abecedarian Project was a carefully controlled scientific study of the potential benefits of early childhood education for poor children.
- The Chicago Longitudinal Study is in its 16th year of operation. It investigates the short and long-term effects of early childhood intervention, as well as traces the scholastic and social development of participating children and the contributions of family and school practices to children’s behavior. The CPC program provides educational and family support services to children from preschool to third grade. It is funded by Title I and has operated in the Chicago Public Schools since 1967.
- The High/Scope Perry Preschool Study examined the lives of 123 African Americans born in poverty and who were at high risk of failing in school. The study found that adults at age 40 who participated in this preschool program had higher earnings, were more likely to hold a job, had committed fewer crimes, and were more likely to have graduated from high school than adults who did not participate.
Early Learning and the Business Community
- Early Childhood Education: A Call to Action from the Business Community is a report by The Business Roundtable. It calls for a federal and state commitment to early childhood education.