Consider the Learning Process as an Assembly Line

Our first reaction is often to think the assembly line is broken in high school, where dropouts occur. Although there is dramatic evidence of the failed system in high school, it is not when the break occurs, and therefore, not the point at which it can be fixed.

As we look at the assembly line of the learning process more closely, we realize the following:

• If a child does not read with a reasonable degree of comprehension at the end of the third grade, the likelihood of that child becoming a dropout is over 90%. Simply put, if a child cannot read, she/he cannot learn.
• If we move even farther toward the beginning of the assembly line, we find that children unprepared for kindergarten often don’t achieve reading comprehension by the third grade and are destined for dropout status. For these children, kindergarten is too late.

Scientific studies show that from birth to age 4 – and particularly in the first 18 months – children rapidly develop the critical capabilities which become the foundation for their subsequent development.

In fact, 90% of the architectural structure of the brain is built in the first three years of life. With proper stimulation and learning opportunities, the gains children can make in language and thinking skills, and in the growth of their emotional, social, behavioral, and moral capacities are remarkable. But without such brain development, scientists tell us that they will miss a “window of opportunity” that closes forever as they leave those early years.