Children are born learning. So investing in the early years, instead of waiting until the first day of school, is backed by research and just makes good sense. It is no wonder early childhood education is growing in national importance and possibility.
The University of Nebraska, invested in this area for eight decades now, is poised to be a national leader. Among its areas of excellence are research in parental engagement; learning from birth to age five; rural literacy; professional development programs for educators; medical research in autism, nutrition, pediatric feeding disorders, mental and physical health issues; and a strong outreach program to school districts and administrators, especially in Omaha. More than 100 early childhood courses are offered across the university right now.
Recently, nearly two dozen faculty members came together from across the university to create an Early Childhood Institute to advance and apply research in medicine, education, psychology, teacher education and environment. The faculty, programs and facilities are already in place. The mission: Translate knowledge into best practices that can improve the lives of all children, especially those at risk because of poverty, abuse, behavior disorders and learning disabilities.
Nebraska will be the national model and a national resource in this area.