Kindergarten used to be the start of most children’s education. But today we know that it should begin even earlier – from birth to age 3 – to maximize benefits (“Some Dog Walkers Earn More Than Caregivers for Babies. Educators Want to Change That.” The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 25). That’s because it is a time of rapid brain growth and language acquisition.
For toddlers from low-income families, the need is most acute. They are not exposed to the same factors that their peers from affluent families are. I have reference now to educational toys, music and the like. If disadvantaged children receive high-quality child care in the form of games, for example, they have a better chance of catching up with others.
The trouble is that getting college graduates to choose a career in this field is hard because pay is low. For example, Early Head Start, a government-subsidized program for low-income infants, pays only $31,000 a year for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree. I’ve always felt that most people view education at that level to be little more than babysitting. As long as that attitude prevails, I see little hope for attracting people to the field.
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