Edward Zigler Reflects On Early Care And Education
Nov 07, 2007
In their October edition, Educational Leaders published an interview with Dr. Edward Zigler, research giant and "father of Head Start." Zigler spoke about the importance of the "whole child" approach to children's development and education. This philosophy was behind what Zigler stated as Head Start's greatest achivements - emphasizing social and emotional development, health, comprehensive services, social services to families, and parent participation. Regarding the multiple evaluations and studies over the years about the value of Head Start, Zigler said, "The positive evidence is overwhelming," and highlighted that evaluations underestimate Head Start's benefit by not including health measures or looking at effects on siblings.
Dr. Zigler also advocated for universal pre-kindergarten for 3- and 4-year-olds, while emphasizing that development starts before children are born and pre-kindergarten alone is not enough. Programs like Early Head Start that reach out to pregnant mothers, infants, and toddlers are essential: "A child's experiences before age 3 are among the most important factors in healthy development." Due to demographic changes, many young children are in child care, which Zigler described as "hodgepodge" and a "nonsytem," while at the same time "probably the greatest need of U.S. parents."
Dr. Zigler concluded with the following advice: "There are good times, and there are bad times. But you have to stay in the game." A great message for those of us committed to comprehensive early care and education, from a great man in our field.