Back to School: NICHD Podcasts Feature Research on Education and Health

Little boy in school

Preschool educational interventions have long been studied for their value in preparing children for school. Recent studies, however, indicate that these interventions might do much more, possibly affecting social and emotional skills later in life, and even adult physical health.

In this podcast round-up, we feature two researchers whose studies shed more light on the effects of preschool education programs. We also highlight the findings of a third researcher that suggest early language difficulties may lead to later behavioral problems in youth. Select a link below to learn more.

  • Early childhood education programs linked to improved adult health (05/12/2014)
    Dr. James J. Heckman, Nobel Laureate and Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, discusses research on individuals enrolled in the NICHD-sponsored Abecedarian Project. This randomized preschool educational intervention began when the children were infants and provided those in the intervention group with cognitive, social, and emotional stimulation. Dr. Heckman’s team contacted the subjects again when they were 35 years old and performed detailed physical examinations. Those who received the intervention as children had better physical health outcomes—for example, lower levels of high blood pressure, pre-diabetes, and obesity—than the control subjects who did not.
  • Head Start offers boost for kids with least academic stimulation (06/09/2014)
    Ms. Elizabeth Miller, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, Irvine, discusses her study of data gathered by the Head Start Impact Study, funded by the Department of Health and Human Services. Ms. Miller and her colleagues analyzed data on more than 3,000 children, looking at how Head Start’s benefits varied with children’s home environments. Preschool children who received the least enrichment at home got the biggest boost from Head Start in their early math skills. Children from homes with moderate enrichment got the biggest boost from Head Start in their early literacy skills.
  • Poor early language skills may be linked to kids’ behavior problems (08/18/2014)
    Mr. Isaac Petersen, a Ph.D. candidate at Indiana University, discusses his yearlong study of children beginning when they were age 2½, in which youngsters from a variety of backgrounds completed simple tasks that measured their ability to regulate their own behavior. The results suggested that early language ability gave the kids a tool that helped them perform the tasks more successfully. Early language skills, the kind gained from parents speaking and reading to their children, predicted later self-regulation and fewer attention deficit-hyperactivity problems.


Originally Posted: September 8, 2014

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