Dear America—ALL children deserve quality, affordable preschool

Looking back on our own experiences with daycare or preschool, most of us probably recall lessons about numbers, colors and cooperation, and lots of playtime. As basic as many of these topics may now seem, research shows early childhood learning environments lay the groundwork for academic achievement later in life.

A new study published in JAMA Pediatrics found that children who attend intensive early childhood educational programs from preschool through third grade are more likely to complete post-secondary education later in life.

Although the benefits to early learning opportunities are clear, the problem for many families remains in accessing affordable, quality programs—which creates a cycle that further widens economic divides.


Barriers to quality early education opportunities persist

According to the Care Index, in-center preschool or daycares costs an average of almost $10,000 a year. For many families, that means applying at least 31% of their income just to cover childcare, which may put it out of reach when you consider other expenses that need to be paid, such as monthly rent and transportation to work.

What’s more: According to the book, Cradle to Kindergarten: A New Plan to Combat Inequality, only 55% of toddlers attend quality formal preschool. The other 45% spend time with a grandparent, loved one or family friend because their parents just can’t afford the high cost of care. Globally, fewer than 50% of children attend early childhood education programs in the majority of countries surveyed, according to UNICEF.

Children from low-income households, then, are shut out from rigorous educational activities that set them up for future success.

These repercussions are felt for generations

In the new study, University of Minnesota researchers discovered that kids from low-income Chicago neighborhoods who entered the city’s Child-Parent Centers (CPC) in the early 1980s achieved associates, bachelors or masters degrees at higher rates in their 30s than children who didn’t experience CPC “intervention.”

This suggests programs similar to the CPC ones could help low-income children get on track for college, says lead author Arthur J. Reynolds, a professor at the University of Minnesota Institute of Child Development.

“A strong system of educational and family supports in a child's first decade is an innovative way to improve educational outcomes leading to greater economic well-being,” Reynolds says in a press release.

For the study, researchers tracked the progress of more than 980 graduates of the Chicago Public School District’s CPC program who participated in the Chicago Longitudinal Study, which Reynolds directs. The Chicago Longitudinal Study is one of the longest-running follow-up surveys on early childhood intervention.

The University of Minnesota researchers then compared that information to data on 550 kids who attended other early intervention programs in the Chicago area. They found a 47% increase in earned associates degrees and a 41% increase in earned bachelors degrees among adults who graduated from the CPC program as preschoolers, compared to non-CPC graduates.

The educational gains were higher for adults who attended CPC through second or third grade as kids: A 48% increase in associates degrees achieved, and a 74% increase in bachelor’s degrees earned.

“This study shows that a well run early childhood intervention program can have benefits well into adult life,” says James Griffin, Ph.D., Deputy Chief of the Child Development Branch at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health, which funded the JAMA Pediatrics study.

The researchers also found that the CPC program had a positive influence in other areas of life. According to the study, CPC graduates were more likely to adopt healthy lifestyles habits as adults and were less likely to deal with high blood pressure or mental health issues.

Those findings mirror previous research that quantified the importance of early childhood education on development, academic achievement and health. In fact, prior studies on the CPC program showed graduates earned higher incomes and experienced lower rates of depression, incarceration and serious crime than adults who attended other programs as kids.

When applied statewide with universal preschool programs, studies show there are short- and long-term benefits that help shrink the achievement gap for low-income kids, according to the Center for Public Education. In fact, a 2005 national study of more than 14,000 kindergartners found that children from families living well below the poverty line had the most substantial gains in math and pre-reading after going to an in-center preschool.

We can make quality early education available to all children

Policies and programs exist that can make preschool and day care more affordable and accessible in the United States—and it seems progress is happening on the state level: According to the 2016 report from the National Institute for Early Education Research, 43 states (plus the District of Columbia) offered some publicly funded preschool options—and funding was on the rise as of a 2017 update from NPR. These programs are designed to make preschool accessible and affordable for low-income and working families, but are not yet universal. (Only three states—Florida, Georgia and Oklahoma—have universal preschool programs for 4-year-olds.)

On the federal level, early education advocates and lawmakers have called on Congress to expand access to high-quality preschool to all children. During his second term, former President Barack Obama had proposed a federal-state partnership, known as Preschool for All Children program, that would make early childhood education programs accessible to toddlers from low- to moderate-income families, as well as middle-class families. However, it seems the current Trump administration may undo a number of gains made nationwide in early childhood education.

As shown by research, including the latest study from JAMA Pediatrics, investments in early childhood education are investments in the future of this country. So let’s move forward by making these opportunities affordable and accessible for all children.

These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

So when I discovered the new line of children's supplements from Nature's Way®, it felt like a serious weight off my chest. Thanks to supplements that support my children's musculoskeletal growth, their brain function, their immune systems, their eyes and more, I'm taken back to that simpler time when I was so confident my kids' vitamin needs were met.*

It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.

Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin

Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

This article was sponsored by Nature's Way. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners
International Network for Aid, Relief and Assistance (INARA)

It's 2020. The world is changing. It's hard to believe but the old decade is over, the new one is here and it is bringing a lot of new life with it. The babies born this year are members of Generation Alpha and the world is waiting for them.

We're only a few months into the new year and there are already some new celebrity arrivals making headlines while making their new parents proud.

If your little one arrived (or is due to arrive) in 2020, they've got plenty of high profile company.

Here are all the celebrity babies born in 2020 (so far):

Keep reading Show less