Vail Daily letter: Early education crucial |

Vail Daily letter: Early education crucial

Gale Hasselbach
Vail, CO, Colorado

Some might ask why early childhood education is such a big deal. Our grandparents didn’t go to preschool. Why can’t children just stay home with their mothers or grandmothers and go to school when they are old enough for kindergarten?

The big deal is that our culture has changed drastically since our grandparents were children. There are no longer neighborhoods where moms are all homemakers and children run in groups around the neighborhood in and out of the different homes playing and learning the rules of society as they negotiate their way through their day.

Children no longer learn to share and take turns in their backyards with their cousins and neighbors.

Our society is dramatically different than it was 50 years ago. Today, the majority of moms work outside the home in order to make ends meet.

Research shows us that there is an optimum window of opportunity for learning the social skills that are necessary to be successful in school and in life. That window is from birth to 6 years of age.

These social and emotional skills are not skills that come easily. Ask any preschool teacher. Therefore, without the benefit of group play and educated teachers to help guide conflict resolution when conflict arises, children who start school without the skills necessary to succeed become a drain on our school system and on society as a whole as they grow and mature.

Young adults without proper social and emotional skills are at far greater risk of drug and/or alcohol addiction, teen pregnancy and incarceration than are those young adults who are socially and emotionally well-balanced.

Children who come to school with the social and emotional skills they need to succeed are also far more likely to excel academically, while those who start school without the social and emotional readiness fall behind quickly.

Teaching the skills necessary to succeed in life is far easier and less expensive when taught at the appropriate age then trying to remediate those young adults who never learned these skills when they were young.

We can pay now or we can pay later.

Fortunately, for those of us in Eagle County,we live in a county that does value early childhood education and invests in it to the best of the county’s financial ability.

Unfortunately, our county cannot afford to pay for preschool for all children in our county and so we will end up paying the higher price in 14 to 20 years for those children who did not have the benefit of an early childhood education.

Casino Night is an annual fundraiser to support the operations of 10 local early childhood programs.

Please come out and support early childhood on Saturday, May 19, at 7 p.m. at the Lodge at Vail.

Gale Hasselbach


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