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Parents' Guide to

No Small Matter

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Early education awareness docu offers insight, tips.

Movie NR 2020 74 minutes
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In a perfect world, this documentary would be shown in both delivery rooms and U.S. congressional swearing-in ceremonies. The information in No Small Matter about the importance of our interactions with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers goes well beyond what you think you know. Many parents have already felt the financial squeeze of finding daycare or preschool. But directors Danny Alpert, Greg Jacobs, and Jon Siskel argue that the cost is well justified for what the children -- and the United States -- ultimately get back from top-notch early education. Even really, really early education. The problem is that only 10% of all available care is considered high quality. And the film explains that "quality of care" means more than just hygiene: It means the necessary learning development tools that, the movie says, our society has actually left behind as it has advanced.

Of course, many caregivers in the United States aren't expecting to and can't afford to pay "tuition" for babies -- so what then? The film walks viewers through how many of the United States' social problems -- from high incarceration rates, health crises, and increased depression and suicide rates to substance abuse and economic woes -- could be curbed with concerted early education efforts on a national basis. According to the featured experts, it's actually cheaper for the government to spend the money on education up-front than to fix the issues retroactively. The film also offers useful insights on how to identify high-quality care and learning facilities and what parents and caregivers can do to ensure that young children's neurons activate and synapses fire. What sets this activist documentary apart from others is that its proposals feel within reach: Most U.S. residents and voters agree that it's important to invest in children to ensure a better future for the country. So whether it's nudging a member of Congress or employing the film's suggested techniques at home, the solutions feel possible. And that's a happy ending.

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