The importance of early childhood education

By Jillian Marshall

August 26, 2014 Updated Aug 26, 2014 at 6:24 PM EDT

Vestal, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Students head back to class next month, but what about the children who haven't reached school age yet? An education summit held Tuesday focused on the needs of children before they hit kindergarten.

Early childhood care and education is a hot topic across the Southern Tier and the state. State leaders are saying it not only benefits the child, but also benefits the state's economic development.

According to Winning Beginning NY, a state-wide education coalition, a child's brain is 75 percent developed by the time they turn 5 years old, kids who have early childhood education are two times more likely to go to college and the average parent misses 1-2 weeks of work a year because of child care.

All of those statistics were talked about at the 2014 Early Care and Learning Summit held Tuesday morning.

People who attended the conference also learned that close to half of US children aren't ready to start learning when they enter Kindergarten.

"When you don't have quality daycare, you miss a lot. I mean, when you just place a child in a highchair and do nothing with them all day, their development is going to be stunted," said Binghamton parent Mary Ann Higgins.

Panelists at the summit said the solution is to offer healthy, educational child care in Broome County and across the state.

"When kids aren't ready for school, they aren't ready for careers and they really wind up costing the system a lot more in terms of health care, in terms of crime statistics as well," Lupardo said.

Panelists said earlier preparation will also give students a positive attitude toward their future.

"When you're in kindergarten and first grade and these children already don't like school because they haven't been successful, it's so much harder to make a difference," Higgins said.

For more information on early child care and education, visit WinningBeginningNY.

Lupardo said she is working on legislation to focus the state's efforts on early childhood education.

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