BUNCOMBE COUNTY, NC, MAY 17, 2022 – When a child with freshly combed hair and an oversized backpack walks into the first day of kindergarten, 90% of that child’s brain has already developed.

Development continues over the next several years, according to researchers with Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child, but it’s during those first five years — roughly 2,000 days — that a person establishes the foundation for cognitive, social and emotional growth. “While there’s obviously the ability to continue to learn, the issue is that it will take more time and effort,” said Amy Barry, executive director for Buncombe Partnership for Children, or BPFC.

For children’s development to be optimized, they need to be engaged and challenged during those first five years. But how can parents, who often have jobs and other children, ensure their kids receive all the tools they need to grow into critical thinkers with emotional regulation and social awareness?

According to Barry and the rest of the BPFC team, the answer is simple: preschool. Read more.