Proven Benefits of Early Intervention on Low-Income Children’s Cognitive Skills and Academic
How Early Intervention Can Improve Low-Income Children’s Cognitive Skills and Academic
Children’s early years are critical and contribute significantly to what they become in the future. The childhood stage lays a foundation for the behavior, cognitive skills, physical health, and regulatory capacities or self-discipline. The intervention programs can promote your child’s well-being and empower them for success.
Not all children have the same opportunity for growth and success. Some of them are faced with various stressors that delay their health and mental development. Therefore, early childhood intervention programs are meant to help these disadvantaged children overcome the stressors and close the gap between them and their advantaged peers.
The support programs are in various forms, including direct learning activities or activities that empower or train their caregivers. These programs are designed to improve a child’s socio-emotional functioning and preschool cognitive skills.
Academic disparity between children from low-income and high-income families
Children from low-income areas are greatly disadvantaged in many ways, including their cognitive functioning. Besides the common factors that may lead to development dysfunctions, such as low birth weight and premature birth, exposure to poverty may influence a child’s behavioral and cognitive development.
For instance, in the US, most White children from well-off families have better developed preschool cognitive skills than African-American children from a poor background. Thus, most of the children from low-income families will always play catch-up with their peers from economically better families.
Therefore, early interventions can help prevent academic failures, school dropout, unemployment, psychological morbidity, and delinquency in young adulthood.
Early Childhood Intervention Programs
A range of intervention programs can help in child development from prenatal to school entry period. These programs broadly focus on three main areas of intervention.
The first approach involves providing education to caregivers on how to develop cognitive skills in their children, among other things. The second approach involves providing center-based early childhood education to preschool children. The final approach combines the first two approaches, whereby the centers’ education supplements parental education.
In some cases, some of these early childhood programs lead to immediately improved outcomes; some of the outcomes may be observed as a child transitions from one stage of life to another.
Features of effective intervention programs
Ideally, any program must produce a better and improved outcome for your child for it to be considered an intervention program. According to policymakers and providers, there are three features that are effective for any childhood intervention program. These features are
- For center-based programs, the intervention program will be more successful if the child-to-staff ratio is smaller. A smaller child-to-staff ratio means that the child will learn in a not-so- congested area and get specialized attention. Children who are learning to talk can quickly develop cognitive communication skills in such environments.
- Intervention programs with well-trained caregivers are more effective, meaning that if trained professionals like graduate teachers oversee the programs, there will likely be more impact than when done by paraprofessionals. This is because a professional knows how to improve cognitive skills in a child. For instance, only a qualified nutritionist can advise caregivers on the best first cereal for baby development.
- An intensive intervention program may lead to better outcomes. However, it may not be possible to know the optimal number of hours for a program to affect a child effectively. For instance, it may not be possible to tell how long a child will take for complete motor skills cognitive development. However, an intense program should enable a child to develop one or two motor skills, such as a pencil or scissor skills.
Head Start Preschool Intervention Program
One of the most common national preschool education programs in the US is known as Head Start. This intervention program is meant to prepare children from disadvantaged backgrounds to enter into a formal education system. Head Start tries to bridge the gap between achievement gaps and is based on a child’s emotional, physical, social, and cognitive development.
Cognitive development, such as cognitive learning skills are central to the program to bring about learning and social competence in children from low-income families. The objective of the Head Start program is to enhance a child’s development and growth and strengthen the families, which are the primary caregivers. The program also aims to provide children with nutritional, health, and educational services and link them with community services. Head Start has served over 20 million children in the US.
A child’s cognitive functioning, such as cognitive perceptual skills, is critical for their preschool years. However, stressors such as poverty may hinder the development of such cognitive skills and their future education. Because children from low-income families will most likely have delayed development, early childhood intervention programs are necessary to bridge the gap between them and their peers from economically advantaged families.
Please share with us your thoughts on early childhood intervention programs and their impacts on children’s cognitive skills.
Rachel Burns is an experienced copywriter and photographer with a design diploma. She works with startups, entrepreneurs, bloggers and companies from around the world. In addition to writing articles and promotional materials, she enjoys hiking, reading, cooking and spending time with her family.