Friday, July 13, 2012

Knowledge Assessment Essay

Knowledge Assessment
A growing body of literature indicates that preschool children experience a critical period in the course of their mental, cognitive and intellectual development. It follows that all stakeholders – principally authorities, parents and caregivers – should promote a safe, nurturing and respectful environment, which facilitates optimal conditions for the development of the young brain. Abundant evidence shows that this kind of environment, whose nature is comprehensively defined by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) under the term high quality child care, brings about tremendous improvements in terms of child development and future achievements. This paper reviews findings on short- and long-term benefits of high quality child care (in terms of e.g. cognitive stimulation, warmth and caregivers’ education) in several major domains.
First, the extent to which caregivers provide opportunities for physical activities, exploration of the surroundings and age-adjusted kinetic skills predicts child performance along the development milestones. The same holds true for the propensity for obesity, which declines in high quality environments (Lawlis, Mikhailovich, & Morrison, 2008). An additional benefit that promotes physical growth and well-being is the lower prevalence of childhood diseases among children who attend high quality care (NICHD, 2006).
In their multisite longitudinal study, Peisner-Feinberg et al. (2000) reviewed a large cohort from an earlier study (West, Wright, & Hausken, 1995). Focusing on cognitive, social and emotional development, the former study’s findings include, among others:
First, high quality child care was found to affect readiness to school and significantly decreased the effect of socioeconomic gaps. This holds true for cognitive measures such as math and language, as well as social conduct. Abnormal social behavior also seems to be less prevalent among well-cared cohorts.
Second, these effects continue to have long-term implications. That is, children who benefited from quality care during their preschool years show superior school performance. The authors define high quality care as predictor of school performance and indicate that children’s superior performance allowed them to gain higher benefits from the didactic and social opportunities in their schools. 
Third, high quality care compensates for traditional risk factors at childhood. This is especially true for children of poor educated mothers, who are considered as risk group for poor school performance. In fact, these populations showed the highest rate of improvement in both short-term and long-term measurements of numerous factors.
Finally, the quality of the teaching staff and the degree to which teachers and caregivers had closer relationships with the children were strongly correlated with the children’s behavioral development and academic achievements. Typical areas of superior performance included language, math, thinking and attention skills, sociability, problematic behavioral patterns and peer relations.
It is hard to overestimate the extent to which child care influences children’s development an through which their future. All the studies discusses in this short paper make a strong point that these interventions are not only indispensable to promote school and preschool performance, but also are extremely cost effective. This holds true especially for children at risk, for children of poorly educated parents, and for socioeconomically deprived toddlers and preschool children.