Review on Early Childhood Education
Benefits of early childhood interventions across the world: (Under) Investing in the very young (2010)
Milagros Nores and W. Steven Barnett, National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), Rutgers University
Scope: reviewed the international evidence outside America on the benefits of early childhood interventions, targeting infants and prekindergarten children, on child cognition, behavior, schooling and health. A total of 38 contrasts of 30 interventions in 23 countries were analyzed.
Conclusion: Children from different context and countries receive substantial cognitive, behavioral, health and schooling benefits from early childhood interventions. The benefits are sustained over time. Interventions that have an educational or stimulation component evidenced the largest cognitive effects (Figure 1). Educational interventions also had the largest effect size on schooling and behavioral outcomes. They also concluded that programs that target infants and toddlers alone and prekindergarten children alone produced larger benefits than programs that targeted both ages at the same time.
Early Childhood Stimulation Interventions in Developing Countries: A comprehensive literature review (2010)
Helen Baker-Henningham, University of the West Indies; Florencia Lopez Boo, Inter-American Development Bank
Scope: reviewed 28 studies of early stimulation interventions to promote children’s development, primarily through parenting interventions, for children aged birth to five years, with a particular focus on the birth to three year age group, taking into account Child mental and motor development, Child behaviour, Schooling, Nutritional status, Health, and mother-child interaction.
Conclusion: The studies reviewed indicate that early stimulation interventions for young children produce significant benefits to children’s mental development (20/21 studies found benefits) and there is some evidence that children’s motor development also benefits (7/12 studies found benefits). There is also reasonable strong evidence for benefits to children’s behaviour (9/10 studies found benefits) and some evidence of benefits to children’s schooling, especially children’s schooling trajectories (4/5 studies found benefits). The studies reviewed indicate that early stimulation interventions do not generally lead to benefits to children’s nutritional status (only 4/13 studies found benefits) and none of the studies included child health outcomes. The studies reviewed thus show that stimulation interventions with young children and their families can have significant benefits to children’s development.
Community-based interventions to optimize early childhood development in low resource settings (2009)
Maulik PK and Darmstadt GL, Department of Mental Health, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University
Scope: reviewed the evidence for the effectiveness of interventions that used low cost stimulation interventions including play, reading, music and tactile stimulation, targeting the early childhood period (0 to 3 years) to improve neuro-cognitive functioning throughout life. Overall 76 articles corresponding to 53 studies, 24 of which were randomized controlled trials, were identified. Sixteen of those studies were from low- and middle-income countries.
Conclusion: Play and reading were the two commonest interventions and showed positive impact on intellectual development of the child. More research is needed to judge the effectiveness of music. Kangaroo Mother Care is effective for low birth weight babies in resource poor settings, but further research is needed in community settings. Massage is useful, but needs more rigorous research prior to being advocated for community-level interventions. Improvement in parent-child interaction was common to all the interventions.
Evaluation of early stimulation programs for enhancing brain development (2008)
Christine Bonnier, Cliniques universitaires Saint-Luc, Brussels, Belgium
Scope: two best evaluated early stimulation programs are discussed. The NIDCAP (Newborn Individualized Developmental Care and Assessment Program) in Sweden for babies <1500g in neonatal intensive care units and the longitudinal multisite program IHDP (Infant Health and Development Program) created in the United States for infants <37 weeks or <2500g.
Conclusion: Early educational strategies, including early stimulation programs, seek to take advantage of cerebral plasticity, which varies with age. Although the NIDCAP and the IHDP targeted different populations, they produced similar effects in several regards: efficacy was greatest with programs involving both the parents and the child; long-term stimulation improved cognitive outcomes and child–parent interactions; cognition showed greater improvements than motor skills and larger benefits were obtained in families that combined several risk factors including low education attainment by the mothers.