By weaving science and humor with stories of real families and educators, the early education documentary No Small Matter shows just how important high-quality early childhood education is and how prioritizing affordable access to it can ultimately lead to powerful, lasting change. And ahead of its digital release, Romper has obtained an exclusive clip of the documentary that helps demonstrates just that.
The message in No Small Matter is simple: Every child should have access to high-quality early education. But, of course, making that goal a reality is, shall we say, no small matter. From day care deserts and other access issues to underpaid educators and a serious lack of funding, there are a number of issues and challenges present in the early childhood education sector. But still, the science behind the importance of high-quality early childhood education is clear. It's vital to the outcomes a person experiences later in life, including success in high school and their odds of pursuing higher education or obtaining a high-paying job.
Rachel Giannini, a preschool educator whose classroom at Highland Park Community Nursery School and Day Care Center in Highland Park, Illinois, is featured throughout the documentary, tells Romper that early childhood education functions much like a building's foundation. "If that foundation is garbage, the building is going to crumble," Giannini says. "Students who had high-quality early education, regardless of their socio-economic status, do better later in life with just this brief moment of time of really strong investment."
Giannini, who — spoiler alert — is forced to leave her job as a preschool educator near the end of No Small Matter because the pay isn't enough to live on, says she hopes parents who watch the documentary realize how incredibly important the first few years of their child's life are.
"There's all these wonderful moments that as soon as the baby comes out of the womb it is learning and it is taking in information," Giannini tells Romper. "And yes, it looks adorable and it basically seems like a loaf of bread that can't do anything, but all the while its brain is creating a million new synapses connections every single second. It is incredible the amount of brain development that is happening."
According to the Children's Institute, research has shown children develop 80% of their brain before their third birthday and that a baby's brain produces a million neural connections each second. As a result, the experiences they have during these early years ultimately help "wire" their brain and build a foundation for critical skills like language, literacy, and reasoning, as well as social and emotional skills.
That's why, as No Small Matter points out, it's important the United States address the disparities currently being seen in regards to access to affordable and high-quality early education as well as funding and resource shortages. "Due to the pandemic, it's finally been highlighted that we are not babysitters, we are essential," Giannini tells Romper. "Let's put our money where our mouth is and let's actually come out of this pandemic in a way that teachers are respected."
After seeing its theatrical premiere indefinitely postponed due to the global coronavirus pandemic, No Small Matter will premiere virtually across a number of digital platforms on June 26. Look for it on iTunes, Google Play, Vubiquity, Amazon VOD, and InDemand.