What are the 3 Main Advantages and Disadvantages of Early Childhood Education?

Early Childhood Education is an important part of current family life. If you have a baby and would like to continue working instead of staying at home you start thinking about Early Childhood Education possibilities. But What actually the Early Childhood Education is?

Early Childhood Education (ECE) – provides learning opportunities for children from 2½ or 3 to 5. The nature and quality of ECE vary enormously from one situation to another. At the top end are thoughtfully designed play-based learning centers in orderly and welcoming settings that are warm, clean, and bright, where well-trained and well-paid teachers work with small groups of children. At the bottom are noisy, busy daycares where poorly trained and underpaid staff work in chaotic and crowded rooms with large groups of children, with broken old toys and substandard equipment (by Dona Matthews, Ph.D.)

But even good Early Childhood Education centers has advantages and disadvantage, so the leading children’s psychologists were asked about What are the 3 Main Advantages and Disadvantages of Early Childhood Education?

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Dona Matthews, Ph.D.

Dona Matthews, Ph.D., has worked with children, families, and schools since 1990. In addition to running a private practice with a focus on giftedness and other special needs, she was Executive Director, Millennium Dialogue on Early Child Development, University of Toronto, and founding Director, Hunter College Center for Gifted Studies and Education, City University of New York. She has published dozens of articles and book chapters and is co-author of four books: Being Smart about Gifted Education (with Joanne Foster); The Development of Giftedness and Talent Across the Life Span (with Frances Degen Horowitz and Rena Subotnik); The Routledge International Companion to Gifted Education (with Tom Balchin and Barry Hymer)and, most recently, Beyond Intelligence: Secrets for Raising Happily Productive Kids (with Joanne Foster).

What are the 3 Main Advantages and Disadvantages of Early Childhood Education?

What’s good about early childhood education?

1.Social and emotional learning. One of the most important benefits of ECE is learning how to play and interact well with others. In high-quality settings, kids learn through play-based learning how to solve problems together, regulate their emotions, and resolve conflicts harmoniously, as they learn about the importance of empathy, kindness, and generosity. They also acquire the listening skills they’ll need to thrive once they’re in more academic settings.

2.Intellectual stimulation. In good ECE settings, children gain academic readiness skills in playful surroundings. They become familiar with numbers, letters, colors, weather, rhythm, movement, and so much more, and develop the vocabulary, fine motor, and other skills they’ll need for a good start when they get to “real” school.

3.Equity and social justice. In countries like the United Kingdom and the United States where there’s a big gap between the wealthiest and the least advantaged members of society, there is also a huge learning gap between the rich and the poor. Children growing up in less privileged circumstances usually enter school well behind their more privileged classmates in academic, social, and behavioral readiness, and that gap grows larger over time. This is problematic for the child who starts school behind their peers: they end up with reduced opportunities for success, as well as a greater likelihood of running into trouble with mental health, addiction, the criminal justice system, and keeping a job. All members of society, from the richest to the poorest, benefit when there’s universal access to high-quality ECE.

What’s bad about early childhood education?

1.Increased stress. Too much time spent with many other children—no matter the quality of the setting—increases a child’s cortisol levels, one of the indicators of excessive stress. This damages the child’s brain development and results in problems with behavior, emotion regulation, relationships, and learning.

2.Over-focus on academic learning at too young an age. A high-quality playbased setting can encourage discovery learning and imagination, but when the focus is on academic learning (numbers, letters, etc.), and the young child is expected to sit still and “work” for much of the day, they can miss the most important social, emotional, and physical learning of this developmental period. In more academic (less play-based) environments, even very smart children can burn out academically before kindergarten.

3.Loss of outdoor play and physical exercise. Young children need lots of time playing outside, exploring nature, and exercising, gaining physical strength, dexterity, and coordination. Some ECE settings do a good job of providing all these things, but many don’t.


There are many strong arguments for providing universal access to high-quality early childhood education. There can be enormous long-term benefits to kids, families, and society when every child has a chance to acquire the skills that give them a head start on academic success.

Too much time in poorly designed and managed ECE can be problematic, both for individual children and for society. It increases young children’s stress, reducing their ability to cope and thrive, which can have long-term emotional, academic, physical, social, and behavioral consequences.

At the end of the day, although time spent in an early childcare setting matters (less is better), and although the quality of setting matters (high quality is better), what matters most for a child’s long-term development is what they experience at home. A child who grows up in a warm and loving home has an enormous resiliency factor that can make up for any deficiencies in their ECE experience.

You can read lots more about ideas like this (and the research that underpins them) in Imperfect Parenting: How to Build a Relationship with Your Child to Weather Any Storm, and on my Psychology Today blog. Go to for more information.


Kendra Thomas, Ph.D.

Kendra Thomas, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Indianapolis. She researches youths’ perceptions of justice and works to improve positive interventions in child and adolescent development funded by the Templeton Foundation. She is a Public Voices Fellow through The OpEd Project.

What are the 3 Main Advantages and Disadvantages of Early Childhood Education?

If I had to summarize the benefits of early childhood education into three things I would say

1.Emotional Development. The best kind of intellectual stimulation for young babies and children is social contact. High-quality early childhood education curriculums will teach socio-emotional development very early in the curriculum, regularly recognizing and labeling emotions which facilitates the child’s understanding of how to manage intense emotions.

2.Moral Development. Early childhood (especially ages 3-5) is a key time to understand the moral context of social actions. It is important for children to be in an environment where they have to negotiate games, share, and wait their turn. This is very hard to replicate at home unless the child has many siblings because parents will tend to accommodate or play like the child wants to play. The negotiation and frustration that happens between children are very important for them to practice taking others’ perspectives and solving problems.

3.Learning symbols. Between ages 2-4 years, old children are learning symbols, such as the ABCs, numbers, but also any kind of pretend play is also part of their expanded symbolic functioning. When they are in a rich learning environment that exposes them to books, cooperative play, they will be well equipped to engage in the symbols of their culture.

The research only shows consensus about one disadvantage which is increased sickness compared to children that are primarily kept at home. However, the children who do not have exposure to some of the more common childhood viruses early on may be more likely to get sick in early elementary school because they have been exposed to them less earlier. All of this is not taking into account the Covid-19 pandemic.

The conclusion of any early childhood education research is always about QUALITY. Children need quality care. That means a safe, predictable, and enjoyable environment that encourages creativity and teaches social norms.

Kathleen Stassen Berger, Ph.D.

Kathleen Stassen Berger, Ph.D., is a professor at the City University of New York’s Bronx Community College. She is probably best known to college graduates as the author of the textbooks The Developing Person Through Childhood and Adolescence as well as Invitation to the Life Span, which are used at more than 700 colleges and universities worldwide. Her research interests include adolescent identity, immigration, and bullying. Her book, Grandmothering: Building Strong Ties with Every Generation is her first book for a general audience. She is a mother of four and grandmother of three.

What are the 3 Main Advantages and Disadvantages of Early Childhood Education?

The advantages are massive.

1.language learning (these are critical years for vocabulary and grammar, which young children pick up and which advances best if more than one caregiver provides it),

2.Appreciation for children of other races, languages, backgrounds, and the social skills needed to befriend them. (young children learn emotional regulation, which means not to punch, pull, or poke other people and instead to laugh, hug, and share, and

3.Motor skills (balancing, running, drawing).

The disadvantages are also three.

1. Frequent caregiver changes. Ideally, young children have the same teacher with the same 3 or 4 children for years. By age 3, it is okay if there are more children in the group, say 10 with two teachers, but relationship building is crucial and that benefits from continuity.

2.Too much screen time. (if screens are used they are limited, and a live adult helps interpret, encourage, enjoy.

3.Sick days. Young children transmit colds and so on. That helps their immune system later on, but primary caregivers need to plan for sick days at home. A parent or other relative must be able to take time off from work, or a  loving non-relative must be an available backup.

Natalia Kucirkova, Ph.D.

Natalia Kucirkova, Ph.D., is a Professor at the University of Stavanger, Norway, and The Open University, UK. Natalia’s research concerns innovative ways of supporting children’s book reading, digital literacy, and exploring the role of personalization in early years. She co-edits the Bloomsbury Book Series Children’s Reading and Writing on Screen and the journal Literacy published by Wiley. Natalia’s research takes place collaboratively across academia, commercial and third sectors.

What are the 3 Main Advantages and Disadvantages of Early Childhood Education?

Positives of early childhood education

Early education that follows the school readiness tradition, can enhance children’s cognitive, social and emotional development. This is particularly the case for children from low socio-economic backgrounds.

Early learning prepares children for later academic and job achievement.

Early use of technology enables children to be familiar with key features of media and supports their journey of becoming responsible and knowledgeable technology users in the future.

Negatives of early childhood education

Too much emphasis on academic achievements might limit open-ended spontaneous play initiated by children.

Overly focusing on the future takes away attention from children’s feelings and experiences in the current moment, there and then.

Increased use of technology early on could minimize children’s knowledge and abilities with analog, non-digital activities.


The biggest benefit of early childhood education is daycare so mothers can go to work.  I started as a volunteer in Project Head Start in 1971. It is a very good program and had high expectations. Preliminary research showed that underprivileged children had a step up when they started elementary school but by third grade, there was no difference. It is questionable whether or not early childhood education has enduring long-term effects on child development. This type of research is extremely difficult to conduct and is often misinterpreted.

Local communities, families, and churches need to invest in our children. Parents need to make children a priority. Extended families can care for children. After all, isn’t spending time with your child and reading them a story more important than driving through McDonald’s and buying trendy new shoes?


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