Back in the 1970s 111 infants from disadvantaged backgrounds were recruited into quite an intensive daycare programme, the Abecedarian Project. Thirty years later, 101 of them were still being monitored by researchers (Frances et al., 2012). This was a scientific, controlled investigation into the benefits of high quality daycare for children who were at risk of developmental delays or academic failure linked to their low-income backgrounds. The children attended full-time, all year, from infancy up to kindergarten. All sorts of educational activities were provided to support their language, cognitive, social and emotional development. The follow-up studies have supported other findings which have consistently shown that children who receive early educational intervention really do perform better at school, resulting in their having greater chance of adult educational success and a better life.
This longitudinal study challenges the idea that such programmes only provide short-term gain for the children.