Effectiveness of Early childhood education Programs in America

Early childhood education can be defined as the learning or education strategies that all learning institutions design in order to allow children aged 2 to 8 to learn. Children require a healthy environment during their childhood to avoid negative consequences that may impede their development later in life (Darling-Hammond 26). In America, the needs of both privileged and disadvantaged children are advocated for during early childhood education. It means that early childhood education programs must meet specific standards to ensure that all children's needs are met, regardless of their learning capacity. A approach like this one tries to close the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged youngsters. The inequality in childhood environments contributes to differences in the success of children during their later years in life (Spodek et al. 323). Improvement of the early childhood programs has encouraged consideration of disadvantaged children to pursue their learning like any other normal child. High quality child care has a cognitive development impact on a person for the rest of entire life. Based on this background, this research paper will be discussing the various early childhood education programs in the US and their effectiveness in offering children the appropriate learning environment for development.
According to the CDC (2016, p.1), early childhood education serves the purpose of improving the cognitive as well as social development of children below the age of eight years. Early childhood interventions are necessary in improving the development trajectories of children. They protect children from being underdeveloped at their adulthood. Early childhood programs in America seek to prevent the gaps that exist between children from low-income and wealthy families regarding school readiness. It means that these programs must address one or more of the criteria for literacy cognitive development, motor skills, numeracy as well as socio-emotional development. Others provide the children with more elements of learning such as health care, social services, and meals, recreational and parental support.
The effectiveness of early childhood education programs depends on the quality program that is being offered as well as the available alternatives and costs (Spodek et al. 347). High quality early education programs benefit the children from all backgrounds as they have high rates of return in term of economic and social aspects. Therefore, the quality of the early childhood program must be accounted for based on the environment that it provides to the children to evaluate its effectiveness.
The demonstration programs, head start and the universal pre-school programs are among the many early childhood programs provided in the U.S elementary school. The demonstration programs target the carrying out of social experiments to indulge children and especially the disadvantage in different facets of their early lives (Elango, et al. 18). The programs tend to differ based on their eligibility, length to follow-up, availability, quality and duration of treatment. The demonstration programs in early childhood education have particular features that identify them during their use. These programs are center-based, means-tested, collection of measurements is on many skills as well as outcomes for an extended period of the life-cycle. Examples of the center-based demonstration programs include the Carolina Abecedarian Project (CAP), the Early Training Project (ETP), The Perry Preschool Project (PPP) and the Infant Health and Development Program (IHDP). The means-tested demonstration programs utilize eligibility criteria which is different. They are considered effective for the children who are disadvantaged (Elango, et al. 19). The demonstration programs have the disadvantage of measuring outcomes only based on the early age of the child. They are considered ineffective because the short-term assessments do not include the possibility of the IQ fading out and ignores multiple capabilities (Elango, et al. 31).
The effectiveness of the demonstration programs of early childhood education can be explained based on several points. These programs are relevant since the older to the current and their main goal is ensuring children obtain school readiness. It shows that the demonstration programs fit within the contemporary programs in early education. The demonstration programs usually influence the generation as well as designing of the early education programs that are most important today. For example, the ETP as well as PPP motivated policymakers to create the Head Start while the ABC program encouraged the development of early education programs targeting younger children. They were the inspiration towards the development of the Early Head Start (Elango, et al. 25). Further, demonstration programs are of high quality and resemble greatly the present early childhood education programs that are of high quality when looking at the curricular, staffing and structure. Consideration of teacher-to-child ratio makes the program more effective in providing child-centered learning. Demonstration programs of early childhood education have long-term effects of follow-ups. It means that they have great impacts on the skills formed by a person during childhood education. These skills influence the person's development to adulthood among other outcomes. Therefore, the positive outcomes of the programs in the long-term are a strong revelation of programs that are well-designed to suit their purpose in early childhood education.
Head Start is an early childhood education program considered to be the earliest to be adopted in the U.S. Unlike the demonstration programs, the head start programs do not have long-term effects to the children to impact on their socio-economic results in future. Head Start only presents children in the early childhood education with short-term measures of cognitive as well as non-cognitive skills (Elango, et al. 45). It is a means-tested early childhood education program established in the year 1965 and currently, it is the largest utilized in America. Like the center-based programs, the head start also allow children at the age of 3 to 4, to begin learning up to two years of treatment. The head start early childhood education program has the objective of fostering cognitive as well as non-cognitive skills to children as it prepares them towards readiness for school using the 'whole child' method. Here, children gain a inclusive set of nutritional, educational, health, as well as other social services (Duncan and Magnuson 2). Achieving these goals requires the head start to provide funding to those centers that have qualifies to provide the program to children from the age of three years. The selected centers have a requirement of maintaining standards of high performance. With the head start, the required performances to ensure the provision of quality early childhood education at the minimal levels include family partnerships, health and nutrition (Elango, et al. 45). Verification of the child status, screening for behavior and mental issues at the head start centers is a must. These centers also give parents and families services for improving all the environments the children are interacting. Even though the minimum standards of the head start program are uniform, a substantial heterogeneity is evident that compromises the quality of early childhood education offered at the centers regarding the services as well as staff's skills. It means that the categorization of the head start as a high quality program is questionable. An individual cannot judge absolutely the head start effects because of this heterogeneity in its treatment impacts (Elango, et al. 45).
The head start programs can be compared to the demonstration programs, a person can see that they share some similarities and differences. For example, the head start is different from the demonstration programs whose care is center-based (Duncan and Magnuson 2). It is means-tested to provide early childhood education services beyond the center-based demonstration programs. However, they have similarities that they share with the means-tested demonstration programs. The head start programs have similar features to those of the ABC and PPP such as the elements of curricular and extracurricular programs. Head Start programs relate to demonstration programs because the centers use a HighScope curriculum that was created from the PPP curriculum. The intention of that curriculum is to seek the improvement of school readiness for children by way of targeting development activities that are age-appropriate including literacy, social, emotional and cognitive development, fine motor, language and gross motor (Elango, et al. 46). Its emphasis is on the significance of a learning environment that is supportive as well as the good association between the carers and the children. Further the ABC in demonstration programs shares the elements of extracurricular with the head start such as the nutritional and medical services. The two also share operational similarities such as offering child care services from the time of birth up to the age of five years. The head start combines with the early head start to provide these early educational services to the children. Children receive transportation as well as full daycare services at the head start centers like in the ABC programs (Elango, et al. 47).
The effectiveness of the head start early childhood programs can be viewed based on various aspects that have been discussed earlier. Due to its heterogeneity, the head start program cannot be considered as providing average quality of early childhood education. Compared to the ABC and PPP, the head start programs are of lower quality. Even after considering control contamination, the expected short-term effects of the head start programs are fewer when compared to the demonstration programs. Muhlhausen considers this program in the US as a failed one (1). Unlike the demonstration programs, the head start programs do not pose long-term effects on the development of the children including the influences in their later life and socio-economic outcomes (Hill, et al. 60). It means that the head start programs need the reinforcement of more skills necessary during the evaluation of early childhood programs. Only children from low-income families tend to benefit from these programs (Muhlhausen 2). Therefore, the head start programs have been dismissed because of ineffectiveness and their failure of providing quality early childhood services. The programs also ignore the fact that the development of IQ in childhood development is useful in their later years. It eliminates the need for achieving long-term effects that have many essential effects on the different dimensions of a person's lifetime.
The universal programs are among the early childhood education programs that are approved in the U.S for the public in the local educational institutions. They majorly cater for children from low socio-economic status for eligibility in reduced costs of lunch (Conn-Powers et al. 1). Georgia and Oklahoma are nations promoting this type of education program for their children in early childhood. The universal programs of early childhood education differ based on the level of education for the mother of these children. Uneducated mothers are the ones who have a likeliness of taking their children to this type of early childhood program. Those educated up to the college level take their children mostly to the private schools where improved early childhood programs are provided. A high level of education for teachers providing the universal early childhood programs is essential. They must have a Bachelors degree and a certificate in early childhood education. The universal programs also consider the importance of small class size 20 children where the enforced ratio of teacher to children is 1:10. Funding for all these universal programs is through the pre-school for all initiative by the state and federal sources as well as other sources of finances (Elango, et al. p.65).
The effects of the universal early education programs to children are usually intended to take place up to the eighth grade. By fourth grade, disadvantaged children are targeted to have gained substantial benefits from the free or low cost lunch, increased scores of reading and math tests. The efficiency of the universal programs is seen vanish by the time a child reaches the eighth grade. This is one aspect that that makes the universal programs of early childhood education ineffective for the effects in the later life of the child. Just like the head start, the universal has short-term effects to the child and ignores the long-term benefits that children are required to gain from early childhood education programs (Hill, et al., 60). The children who suffer most when they use the program are those advantaged or the ones coming from high socio-economic status. By the fourth grade, these children experience diminishing effects that varnish completely by the eighth grade. Disadvantaged children benefit the most when compared to their counterparts from learning the activities, playing and spending more of their time reading and other tasks that enhance their cognitive and non-cognitive skills. The quality of environment for these children is improved to a greater extent than that of advantaged children (Elango, et al. p.66). The disadvantaged children tend to benefit most from the universal programs because they cannot gain an improved environment when using alternatives. When taken to the alternative programs, they will produce weak and negative effects on the learning.
In conclusion, the three types of early childhood education programs prove that the United States has not yet achieved an effective program suitable for all children learning during childhood. The provided programs tend to favor the disadvantaged children the most in the name of providing equality in the access of education. Advantaged children benefit most from the center-based early childhood programs (demonstration programs) while the disadvantaged children benefit lest from similar programs of early childhood education. All the programs providing positive effects to the children are of high quality standards. From the discussion, the presence o low staff to children ratios, a small size of classroom and teachers with higher level of education ensures efficiency in the provision of early childhood education programs. Therefore, the efficiency of these programs on the children learning depends on whether they are center-based or non-center-based. Child development effects up to their adulthood or later life years is a factor that describe the efficiency of early childhood programs currently being used in the U.S. From the three discussed programs in this research paper, the demonstration programs are the most effective when looking at all the dimensions of child development through skills gained and cognitive as well as non-cognitive effects. Head start and universal programs are least effective and cannot be relied on as effective because of their short-term effects on the development of children. Head start has been eliminated by many researchers as an early childhood program that can be relied up. Universal programs can only be implemented effectively for the disadvantaged. It means that three principles are important for an effective early childhood program. It must be able to provide children with multiple skills that go beyond normal cognition and consideration of alternatives is also crucial for parents to understand the program that highly fits their children Families are also urged to provide a healthy environment for children that help in shaping their learning and development when in school.

Works Cited
Center for Disease Control and Prevention. "Early Childhood Education. What is Early Childhood Education," The U.S Department of Health and Human Services. 2016, The Web
Conn-Powers, Michael., Cross, Alice., Traub, Elizabeth and Hutter-Pishgahi, Lois. The Universal Design of Early Education. Moving Forward for all Children. The Web http://journal.naeyc.org/btj/200609/ConnPowersBTJ.pdf
Darling-Hammond, Linda. The flat world and education: How America's commitment to equity will determine our future. Teachers College Press, 2015.
Duncan, Greg J., and Magnuson, Katherine. "Investing in Preschool Programs." The journal of economic perspectives : A journal of the American Economic Association 27.2 (2013): 109-132. PMC. [Online Journal], The Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4318654/
Elango, Sneha., García, Jorge Luis., Heckman, James J., and Hojman, Andrés. Early Childhood Education. NBER Working Paper Series. Retrieved from http://www.nber.org/papers/w21766.pdf
Hill, Carolyn J., William T. Gormley, and Shirley Adelstein. "Do the short-term effects of a high-quality preschool program persist?" Early Childhood Research Quarterly 32 (2015): 60-79.
Muhlhausen, David. The Head Start Cares Demonstration: Another Failed Federal Early Childhood Education Program. The Heritage Foundation. 2015. The Web. http://www.heritage.org/education/report/the-head-start-cares-demonstration-another-failed-federal-early-childhood
Spodek, Bernard, and Olivia N. Saracho. Handbook of research on the education of young children. Routledge, 2014.

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