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In 2011, the newly formed school board of Covenant Community School gathered to discuss the need for affordable early childhood education in west Gastonia. One of the first questions asked was “What in the world can you teach a two-year-old”? A lot! It is a pleasure to share the benefits and effects of early childhood education for students, families and our entire community.

I have been an early childhood educator and advocate for children over 19 years. Directing NAEYC and NAC accredited early childhood programs. Holding degrees in education and business have been beneficial in my pursuit to care for the youngest of our citizens. However, I am confident my greatest credential is a firm foundation in early learning in a Christ-centered home with high moral and work ethics. My parents blessed me by providing a rich environment in literature, conversation and experiences along with the opportunity to attend a high-quality preschool.


The brain develops most rapidly in the first five years of a child's life. During these critical years, neuroplasticity is at a peak — neurons form new connections at the astounding rate of up to 1,000 per second. These connections are the foundation of a child's physical and mental health, affecting everything from the lifelong capacity to learn, from the ability to adapt to change to the ability for resilience. This occurs through relationships, experiences and environments. The brain is not fully developed at birth and growth occurs as connections are made. Every experience a young child has makes a neural connection in the brain. These connections are called synapses. Early childhood education lays the groundwork that allows each child the opportunities to reach their potential.

Experiences and situations determine which synapses get used more. The more they happen, the greater and stronger the link. Those that are used less fade away. The child’s interaction with the world determines how these connections are formed, resulting in either a strong or weak foundation for future health and learning. High-quality early learning makes an enormous difference. In other words, what you learn under the age of 5 will have a direct impact on your entire life.


“There is no better return on investment than quality early childhood education. An investment in our children is an investment in our future.” Tony Marshall, President and CEO
Innovative Systems Group, Inc., Raleigh, NC

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for a Competitive Workforce calls early childhood education a matter of ‘national economic prosperity and the viability of the American dream.’

Ready, Set, Go! Why Business Should Support Early Childhood Education

“ Business has a clear economic stake in the future of our nation’s children and should be an active partner in promoting policies that help young children succeed.”

Starting Smart & Finishing Strong: Fixing the Cracks in America’s Workforce Pipeline Through Investments in Early Childhood Development

Why is this important? About half of the American workforce does not have the communication skills or basic education required to become employed or succeed in the job place. North Carolina employers face these hurdles constantly.

A survey of business leaders found that today’s employers value “soft skills” such as moral character, positive attitudes, conflict resolution, communications and team building. Early childhood education fosters the ability in children to enjoy learning, identify emotions in themselves and others and to relate to adults and peer in positive ways. Children learn to manage anger, frustration and distress.

Adults who attended high-quality early education programs earn more income, pay more taxes and are not as likely to depend on government assistance. These adults have better jobs, better education, and better lives. Society is the big winner when funds are invested in early childhood programs, it is society that is the big winner. The pay off is great for the community, not just for the individual.


“Law enforcement associations know that the best defense against crime comes from programs that keep kids from committing crimes. High-quality early education helps kids get a good beginning in life. There are more than 2 million adults in local, state and federal prisons; 39,000 are inmates in North Carolina costing $1.38 billion in 2012-2013. Think what would happen if even a part of these funds could be spent on building a good foundation for our children. Drawing on Frederick Douglass’ quote that “it is easier to build strong children than it is to fix broken men” we must address the needs of the child before they become adults.


“Investing in our children through early education is a plain common sense issue critical to our National Security.”

Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
General Henry H. Shelton and General John M. Shalikashvili

Investments in early childhood education directly affect our national security. Mission Readiness is a national security organization founded by military leaders. They advocate that smart investments in America’s children should start with expanding high-quality early childhood education programs.

More than 70 % of 17 to 24 year olds in the United States cannot serve in the military because they are weakly educated, overweight, or have a criminal record. Investing in the next generation early on is critical to our nation’s future. We must invest in early childhood education so children can have a good start and succeed in life; no matter what career path they choose.


The faith community has traditionally played an important role in the education of young children. They understood that when a faith-filled environment is presented to young children, connections are formed that will make a solid association with the faith in later years.


We need to raise awareness in Gaston County and invest in the moral development of our young children. Preschool is an opportunity to give a child a better life and a better chance. We are building individuals, communities, our nation and most important kingdom building for eternity.

Lynda Williams

I submit this article by Lynda Williams because I feel it is of utmost importance that the citizens of Gaston County truly understand the importance of early learning and brain development. If we are to look forward to a bright future, we must take care of our young to ensure they will grow up healthy and productive.

So won’t you join us in reaching out to Gaston County? Our school, Covenant Community Preschool is searching for partners:

• to assist us in searching for a larger facility in Gaston County so we can continue our high-quality preschool program in 2015 and beyond.

• to join us in providing scholarship funding for families who need assistance.

• to refer families to us who may need a scholarship-based early childhood education program.

Thank you for your support and efforts to improve Gaston County!

May Barger

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