What was your most memorable year in school? Most of us would likely mention a year in high school, possibly junior high. Our memories of elementary school are spotty at best-so how important could it be? Actually, studies have proven time and time again that those are actually the most important years for education and development. Here are some ways that those early years help shape the futures of our children.

Kindergarten through third grade are vital, and it all comes down to one key skill: reading. Students who are not reading at grade level by the end of third grade are four times more likely to dropout of high school than proficient readers. The reason for this is that in third grade, they are no longer solely focusing on teaching reading. Instead, they are using books to teach the children about other subjects like science and history. If they haven't grasped reading by then, they start to fall behind in all subjects.

It's in the early years that we learn the most about socializing with others. The little things like sharing, patience, and kindness are all learned in those early years-and it's not just at home that they're learning these lessons. Frequently, it's their teachers that show them how to communicate, wait their turn, and give to others. Even when they're seeing it at home, it's priceless to have it reinforced at school too.

Every child has strengths and weaknesses, quirks and gifts. However, once they reach school and are amongst their peers troubling behaviors and needs can be identified for the first time. A solid elementary school can partner with parents to identify when there is a need. Early intervention in learning disabilities is vital to long-term success, and that can and should start in the elementary classroom.

In the book Kingdom Education by Glen Schultz, it asserts that those early years are actually the ones that help determine the child's core beliefs about God and the world around them. That is why surrounding your child by as many positive influences as possible in those early years.

It's easy to focus on the later years since they are the ones that colleges tend to focus on. However, it's the early days that shape "the way they should go."

Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it."