Latest Perry Preschool Project finding ‘proves that these early life improvements can carry on to second generations’

We focus on early childhood development because we know that the earliest years of a child’s life are crucial to life-long success. One well-known study is the Perry Preschool Project, which launched in the 1960s to see if high-quality preschool would lead to higher IQ scores. While the children’s IQ scores only increased short-term, there were plenty of positive long-term effects.

Perry Preschool Project researchers—specifically Nobel Laureate James Heckman, who has led the project for the past decade—have continued to keep track of the participants as they grew up and found out that they have thrived. Compared to their peers who were not enrolled in high-quality preschool programs, Perry Preschool Project participants have been more successful in measures of graduation rates, job retention, physical health and healthy relationships. 

The latest findings, which were released this past May, show that the children of the Perry Preschool Project participants have been more successful, too. Results have shown they were more likely to be employed and less likely to be suspended from school or arrested.

According to Heckman, the study succeeded for two reasons:

  1. It helped children build social and emotional skills. Children interacted with each other through play and group projects. These activities improved their communication, problem-solving and social interaction skills.
  2. The parents were tasked with creating a warm learning environment at home. Parents were encouraged to read and play with their children.

These two factors show that parents can build a solid foundation for their child at home, in addition to the benefits children can gain from attending high-quality preschools. Children can learn to interact with others through play dates, sports and other activities. To foster an appreciation for learning, parents can encourage reading, visiting museums, playing with their children or do whatever piques their child’s curiosity!

If you’d like to speak with one of our early childhood specialists about your child’s early experiences, contact our Birth to Five Helpline at 877-705-KIDS (5537). We’re available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

All content in this article, including any advice or commentary from Southwest Human Development staff and/or others, should be considered an opinion and is provided for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for medical or other professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the direct advice of your own trusted professional with any questions or concerns you may have regarding the child/ren in your care. Southwest Human Development does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, products, procedures or other information that may be mentioned in this article. You may contact Southwest Human Development’s Birth to Five Helpline at 1-877-705-KIDS (5437) to speak with one of our early childhood professionals for personalized assistance. Birth to Five Helpline specialists are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.