To the Editor:
As a pediatrician specializing in child development, I am excited to see signs of implementation of Vermont’s new Act 166 — publicly funded, universal access to high-quality pre-kindergarten programs for children ages 3-5. This will be beneficial to Vermont children who are not prepared for kindergarten.
However, this additional 10 hours a week of quality programming addresses only a small portion of the problem, since we know that about 80 percent of a child’s critical brain development occurs before age 3. Brain connections made during this time lay the foundation for future success in school, relationships and the workforce. For this reason, we must ensure that all our children have quality early experiences during the very earliest stages of life.
This is why I am writing in support of Let’s Grow Kids, the new public education campaign that launched April 25 with a goal of raising awareness about the importance of the earliest years in the lives of our children. The goal is to bring together community members from all segments of our society to come up with solutions to help Vermont do a better job focusing on the first years — because we’re all in this together, and we all stand to benefit from helping our children reach their full potential. Please visit letsgrowkids.org to find more information and sign the pledge to help raise awareness of this important issue.
Nina Sand-Loud, M.D.
Pediatrician, Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth