Early Childhood Education: Pathways to Better Health

posted by / Monday, 11 August 2014 / Published in Latest posts, POLICY PAPERS

By: National Institute for Early Education Research


This brief presents the multiple pathways through which early childhood education programmes can contribute to better health, in both the short and long term.

The potential health benefits of early childhood education programmes are quite large, especially for children living in poverty.  In this report, authors Allison Friedman-Krauss and Steve Barnett set out the evidence regarding the short- and long-term health benefits to children from early childhood education programmess, identify the features of high-quality programmes that can produce these benefits, and offer recommendations to improve the contributions of such programmes to health.


Policy Recommendations:

  • All children in the United States should have access to high-quality preschool programmes, and parenting education should begin early in pregnancy with the degree of support based on risk of poor health and developmental outcomes
  • Early childhood programmes should provide screenings and referrals for health, dental, mental health, developmental, vision, and hearing or facilitate access to these through other programmes
  • Every nation should prioritise high-quality early learning opportunities and other supports for early childhood development. International support to lower income countries for investment in early childhood development should increase
  • Because health habits are formed at an early age, early education programmes should be required to provide health, nutrition and exercise education
  • To combat and prevent obesity, programmes should consider policies prescribing desirable meals, snacks and exercise. Programmes also can help families implement healthy changes at home. In developing nations and low-income areas, early childhood programmes should offer nutrition supplementation to prevent malnutrition
  • Access to health and nutrition services should be based on the needs of the child and family. Some may need extensive assistance while others may need limited services
  • Preschool curriculum should include an emphasis on supporting children’s socio-emotional development, including self-regulation skills
  • More health-related early education research is needed. Health outcomes should be included in evaluations of impacts of early childhood programmes as well as benefit-cost analyses


Link: Full Document